Since its release on November 22, Blue Story has been dominating headlines due to the controversy surrounding Vue Cinemas decision to pull the film from the chain’s 91 cinemas in the UK and Ireland following an incident that broke out at one of its venues.
This was despite having implemented increased security, reducing the number of showings and completely removing late-night screenings.
Police were called to the complex in Birmingham on Saturday evening following reports of youths with machetes, with the mass brawl resulting in a 13-year-old girl and four other teenagers being arrested, as well as seven officers being injured. A group of more than 100 people were said to be involved, with ‘pockets of fighting’ breaking out as families queued for Frozen 2.
West Midlands Police said it made no recommendations about pulling the 15-rated film, which is centred on two friends from different areas of south London who end up on rival sides of a gang war.
Once news broke about Vue Cinemas’ decision to pull the film, the backlash quickly flowed online, with many accusing them of ‘blatant racism’ in response to their decision.
November 24, 2019
So are you banning every movie that was screening at that time or just Blue Story.— Tolly (@tolly_t) November 24, 2019
Do you lot know how exhausting you make life for us. @vuecinemas
It had nothing to do with Blue Story, the kids weren’t black and they weren’t even old enough to see it - reinstate or we start a boycott @vuecinemas https://t.co/GASkEqzsCM— Will Adoasi (@WilliamAdoasi) November 24, 2019
This Blue Story and Vue thing is racist.— Oloni (@Oloni) November 24, 2019
VUE is embarrassed that their security allowed boys with machetes into a CHILDRENS movie screening, so now they’re using Blue’s Story as a scapegoat. #boycottVUE— kleria (@K5Mendes) November 24, 2019
Was literally going to watch blue story tonight at vue star city as that’s where I usually go. To see they’ve locked it off from all Vue cinemas is a disgrace. Half the people arrested aren’t even of age to watch it Sort your security out it’s fuck all to do with the film.— Jaykae (@Jaykae10) November 24, 2019
"I think the question that should be asked is why do young people feel the need to carry out violence."#BlueStory actor Vic Santoro says a "deeper conversation" needs to be had to understand what is behind youth violence rather than blaming a film https://t.co/xrGYZv2r2X pic.twitter.com/JSrPSABAQk— ITV News (@itvnews) November 25, 2019
"Blue Story" isn't a violent film so please dead that rhetoric... "Joker" and "The Dark Knight Rises" are violent films.— Lillian (@LillzTrackLife) November 24, 2019
so is VUE going to remove frozen 2 from every cinema in the uk like they did to bluestory? because of a “fight” NOT in the screening. https://t.co/Nh9kq52Jyr— Michael (@MichaelSanusi_) November 24, 2019
Vue cinema is absolutely disgraceful. Using #BlueStory as a scapegoat. Knee jerk reaction. Black people weren’t responsible for the violence that broke out.— Young King (@POTFW_) November 24, 2019
It had nothing to do with the movie. They were itching for an excuse to discontinue viewership. Undertones of racism.
Blue Story being removed from Vue cinema shows a lack of insight people in such positions have regarding the content, its community and culture. Film making is a global phenomenon and the nuances exposed through storytelling is literally the foundation of most award winning films— Akruma (@judeblay) November 24, 2019
And too the silly little boys in this picture? Are you proud of yourselves? Do you think this makes you ‘bad’? Cos when the real consequences kick in and you’re all in tears... you won’t be bad boys then will you?? https://t.co/IhtCT770zO— Not3s (@Not3sofficial) November 24, 2019
As well as most drawing comparisons to the release of Joker, citing a "few incidents" surrounding that film, with one US cinema cancelling screenings following what was described as a "credible" threat. But Joker went on to become a box office hit and the highest-grossing Rated R film of all-time.
Vue Cinemas also released a statement to address their decision to pull Blue Story from its cinemas:
"The decision to withdraw Blue Story was not one taken lightly or without careful consideration of our experience across the country. The film opened in 60 of our sites across the UK and Ireland on Friday 22nd 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 a such a short time frame.
"Despite a range of precautionary measures in place, including increased security, removal of late-night showings and reduced screenings of the film, the decision to withdraw Blue Story in its entirety was made on Saturday evening on grounds of safety alone. While we are disappointed that these are the actions we have had to take, we hope it is understandable that we cannot, and will not, take any risks with regard to the welfare and safety of our staff and our customers. Unfortunately, the actions of a significant few have spoiled the opportunity for others, but we stand by our decision to withdraw the film from our schedule indefinitely.
Showcase later followed suit and pulled Blue Story too, but reversed its decision to cancel all screenings after careful consideration and discussions with the distributor:
"After careful consideration and discussions with the distributor in the last 24 hours, we have come up with a plan to reinstate screenings supported with increased security protocols and will be doing so from this evening."
Showcase have stuck to their word and have reinstated Blue Story to their screens. pic.twitter.com/2sBMU7y6ja— Rapman (@RealRapman) November 25, 2019
Fortunately, despite Vue’s ban, other chains are continuining to show Rapman's critically-acclaimed film. Cineworld have confirmed that they are still showing the film at their cinemas. A spokesperson for Odeon told metro.co.uk they would still be screening the film, saying in a statement:
‘We are aware of reports of violence at cinemas which have been linked to the film Blue Story. The safety of our guests and colleagues is our number one priority. We have a number of security measures in place for this film, and are currently reviewing these along with our programming, in order to continue to put the safety of our guests first.’
PHOTO CREDIT: PA