Cinemas Ban ‘Blue Story’ After Machete Violence at Screening in Birmingham, UK

LONDON, ENGLAND - NOVEMBER 14: The cast and crew attend the World Premiere of "Blue Story" at Curzon Cinema Mayfair on November 14, 2019 in London, England. (Photo by Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for Paramount)
Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images for Paramount

Following the shocking display of violence by machete-clad youths at a cinema in Birmingham, two cinema chains have decided to pull screenings of the BBC backed gangster film, Blue Story.

Vue Cinemas announced on Sunday that it had cancelled all screenings of the British-made film Blue Story in their 91 cinemas across the UK and Ireland.

“We can confirm a decision was made to remove the film from our cinemas. The safety and welfare of our customers and staff is always our first priority. We are saddened to have had to take this step, which is not made lightly, particularly as the film itself seeks to strike a strong message against violence,” a spokesman told the Metro.

The decision to pull the controversial gangster flick was mirrored by Showcase Cinemas, which cancelled all screenings of Blue Story in its 21 movie theatres in the UK.

The cancelling of Blue Story comes in the wake of a shocking incident over the weekend, in which over 100 youths, some armed with machetes, brawled in a cinema in Birmingham, where the film was being shown. Many of the witnesses to the violence were parents with young children who had come to see the Disney animated film, Frozen 2.

Seven police officers were injured in the fighting, and so far six teenagers have been arrested. Police recovered two machetes and a knife from a roundabout near the cinema complex.

West Midlands Police described the incident as “maybe the worst thing” that its officers have ever seen. Police said they were “not jumping to any conclusions” and at present cannot formally connect the violence to the viewing of Blue Story.

The movie which was written by Andrew Onwubolu, a rapper and YouTuber who also goes by the monicker ‘Rapman’, was produced by Paramount and BBC films. The film depicts two young boys from rival postcodes who become friends before becoming embroiled in a turf-war amongst competing gangs in South London.

Onwubolu, who was recently signed to Jay-Z’s record label, responded to the banning of his film by saying that he is “sending love to all those involved in the violence at Star City in Birmingham. It’s truly unfortunate that a small group of people can ruin things for everybody. Blue Story is a film about love, not violence.”

Vue defended its decision on Monday, revealing that the Birmingham armed brawl was just one of over 25 “significant incidents” being reported across the country, according to a statement seen by Sky News.

The cinema said: “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 the 22nd of 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.”

The statement continued: “The decision is not, as some have alleged, based on biased assumptions or concern about the content of the film itself. We believe passionately in bringing people together and the power of the big screen to entertain, educate, and inspire our audiences. It’s a fantastic film with a powerful message and has the opportunity to change lives.”

The controversy comes as an epidemic of knife-crime has engulfed London. Breitbart London has reported that the number of teenagers stabbed to death in London has reached a level not seen in the capital in over a decade.

Follow Kurt on Twitter at @KurtZindulka

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