'Blue Story': UK Cinemas Receive Backlash For Pulling Black-Led Film After Fight At Theater
Photo Credit: LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14: Stephen Odubola, Rapman and Michael Ward attend the "Blue Story" world premiere at Picturehouse Central on November 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Joe Maher/Getty Images)
Film , News

'Blue Story': UK Cinemas Receive Backlash For Pulling Black-Led Film After Fight At Theater

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.”

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.

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.”

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.

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.”

READ MORE:

’21 Bridges’ Star Chadwick Boseman On Why There’s Always Going To Be Corrupt Cops

 

Photo: Getty Images

From Harlem to Hollywood, get the Black entertainment news you need in your inbox daily.

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

© 2022 Shadow & Act. All rights reserved.