The film Blue Story, directed by filmmaker Andrew Onwubolu, who also goes by his stage name Rapman, has been removed from Vue theaters after a fight broke out at a UK theater location.
According to Deadline and Variety, police officers were called to clear out about 100 teenagers from a Vue theater in the Star City entertainment complex in Birmingham, England. According to Deadline, police recovered two machetes and a knife. Five teenagers, including a 13-year-old girl, were arrested.
After the altercation, Vue removed the film from its 91 outlets across the UK and Ireland. Showcase Cinemas initially removed the film from their outlets, but have since reinstated the film.
The chain wrote to Deadline that they “took the decision to temporarily suspend screenings of Blue Story to enable us to assess the situation.”
“After careful consideration and discussions with the distributor in the last 24 hours, we have come up with a plan to reinstate screenings of the film supported with increased security protocols and will be doing so from this evening.”
Other outlets, such as Odeon and Cineworld, are still showing the film, but as for Odeon, it is boasting “a number of security measures in place.”
The film focuses on two friends who become enemies after they are engulfed in a gang turf war. Because of the film’s subject matter, many have attributed Vue’s of dropping the film to be along racial lines, including ITV news presenter Charlene White who lambasted the cinema chain on Twitter. “Clearly an isolated incident at your locations, but you choose to blame @BlueStoryMovie and ban it from ALL your venues. Utterly ridiculous,” she wrote. “Congrats on your achievements @RealRapman. Your hard work isn’t forgotten by those of us with common sense…this whole nonsense can be filed alongside that age-old, tired argument that [B]lack music causes violence.”
Congrats on your achievements @RealRapman. Your hard work isn’t forgotten by those of us with common sense.
— Charlene White (@CharleneWhite) November 24, 2019
… this whole nonsense can be filed alongside that age old, tired argument that black music causes violence pic.twitter.com/U5coM97koJ
— Charlene White (@CharleneWhite) November 24, 2019
Others also wrote about their annoyance with Vue’s decision to drop the film over the incident, with many viewers of the film leaving messages of solidarity on Onwubolu’s Twitter account.
Totally agree! If it was a Tarantino film the ban would not happen. It would be treated as you say and for what it is, an isolated incident. This is disproportionate and imho institutional racism.
— Sharon King (@ShazzaF1) November 24, 2019
This film doesn’t encourage violence or hate, it encourages to stay out of gangs inciting violence, this film should be seen, not band @vuecinemas ????
— Luisa ???????????????? (@ItalianMamaLu) November 25, 2019
How can we seriously attribute the actions of a few as the intended will of the many? An easy out for @vuecinemas. These ‘stories’ are real life, we aren’t able to ban them! krays, rise of foot soldier?? I wonder what could be different….hmm????????
— Lana Crosbie (@lana_crosbie) November 25, 2019
What a film. Anyone who dares to say that this film glorifies gangs or violence. Needs to get their heads out of the clouds and realise that this is a lot of young people’s reality. Everything in this gritty film is anti gang. A must for everyone. Rapman is the new John Singleton pic.twitter.com/W28Nlf2enV
— Ben Hudson (@SuffolkFedSec) November 25, 2019
Just watched @BlueStoryMovie – such a powerful film that highlights gang culture. Well done @cineworld for not cancelling this movie and also to @RealRapman for making the film. #BlueStory #Cineworld #CineworldUnlimited
— Tracey Bettany (@TraceyTee) November 25, 2019
— Marshall (@mrsocialmisfit1) November 25, 2019
Blue Story!!! Just taken my children aged 16 and 15 to watch this movie. This is a message to all parents, go to the cinema and watch the movie. Its time you spent quality time understanding the youths and how they feel.
— Michael O Shonde (@OShonde) November 25, 2019
Just seen @BlueStoryMovie it broke my heart. @RealRapman thank you for telling a story that will save lives. I’m disgusted with @vuecinemas for their racist decision. This Film is about Love and not Hate, don’t blame the movie for the actions of a few idiots. #bringbackbluestory
— Martin (@uncle_tomato93) November 25, 2019
Onwubolu himself has released a statement on Twitter, writing his film is about “love not violence.”
“There were also a few incidents earlier this year with the release of The Joker, it’s always unfortunate, but I hope that the blame is placed on the individuals and not an indictment of the film itself,” he wrote, adding that he hopes “we can all learn to live with love and treat each other with tolerance and respect.”
— Rapman (@RealRapman) November 24, 2019
This film was never about violence it was about love as rapman said. I watched this film today I can truly say it was one of best films I have watched this year and this story could have a big impact on many people today in london so why ban it vue? #BlueStory @RealRapman https://t.co/NmKJb1M5Ds
— Anisa Boufenchouche (@anisaboufen12) November 24, 2019
Onwubolu also wrote that his film has lost almost half of its 300 screenings since Sunday, but still came in third at the UK box office.
— Rapman (@RealRapman) November 25, 2019
Vue has since come out with a statement of their own to Deadline, stating that they didn’t pull the film based on racial stereotypes.
“This decision is not, as some have alleged, based on biased assumptions or concern about the content of the film itself,” the chain wrote. “At Vue, we believe passionately in bringing people together and using the power of the big screen experience to entertain, educate and inspire all of our audiences. Blue Story is a fantastic film and one with a very powerful message. It is a film that has the opportunity to change lives. We hope that Blue Story achieves the success it deserves and importantly its message does not get lost.”
The theater chain claims that the decision to remove the film was based “on the grounds of safety alone.”
“The decision to withdraw Blue Story was not one taken lightly or without careful consideration of our experience across this country,” wrote the chain. “The film opened in 60 of our sites across the UK and Ireland on Friday 22 November, but during the first 24 hours of the film over 25 significant incidents were reported and escalated to senior management in 16 separate cinemas. This is the biggest number we have ever seen for any film in such a short time frame.”
Photo: Getty Images
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