**UPDATE:**Pera tweet from Onwubolu, Showcase has now re-instated its screenings. In a statement a Showcase spokesperson said: "We 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 re-instate screenings of the film supported with increased security protocols and will be doing so from this evening. We want to reassure our guests that their safety – and that of our staff members – is our absolute priority."
Now Vue cinemas has also issued a statement saying it will re-instate screenings on a previsionary basis. "Right now we are looking at trying to get that movie back onto our screens by the weekend and possibly, if we can, to accelerate that," Vue boss Tim Richards said. "Our plans right now are to look at the timings and look at who's buying the tickets, and we're going to be beefing up security where we've had problems. There will be one or two cinemas, like Birmingham, where it will be very difficult to justify screening it again there."
Read the original story below.
British drama film Blue Story has been removed from Vue Cinemas and Showcase Cinemas in the UK following a violent incident in the foyer of a Birmingham cinema this weekend. Five teenagers aged between 13 and 14 were arrested after a mass fight in the lobby of the Vue in the Star City multiplex broke out, with two machetes seized by police at the scene. The incident does not appear to be directly connected to any screening of Blue Story itself, and occurred while customers were queuing to enter a screening of Frozen 2.
Blue Story, from UK grime artist Rapman, aka Andrew Onwubolu, cautions against gang violence, following two friends from South London who end up drawn into rival gangs. The film has been rated 15 by the BBFC. Writing on his Instagram, Onwubolu said: “Sending love to all those involved in yesterday’s 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.”
He continued: “There were also a few incidents earlier this year with the release of_Joker_, it’s always unfortunate, but I hope that the blame is placed with the individuals and not an indictment of the film itself. I pray that we can all learn to live with love and treat each other with tolerance and respect.” In the post caption he singled out Vue, writing: “#BlueStorymovie playing in all major cinema chains except @vue”
The decision to ban the film has caused widespread controversy, with people decrying the decision and using the hashtag #boycottvue on social media. Actor Jameela Jamil wrote: “NOPE @vuecinemas this isn’t how you handle a problem. Punishing and erasing a work of art over an isolated an unrelated incident demonstrates hysterical, reckless discrimination. These kids weren’t even old enough to see_Blue Story_and were there for_Frozen 2_. Reinstate the film.” ITV News anchor Charlene White wrote: "Seriously @vuecinemas?! Clearly an isolated incident at one of your locations, but you choose to blame @BlueStoryMovie & ban it from ALL your venues. Utterly ridiculous. Congrats on your achievements @RealRapman. Your hard work isn’t forgotten by those of us with common sense.”
The police have reportedly not advised cinemas to remove screenings of the film. “We’ve made no recommendations to Vue at all,” says Chief Superintendent Steve Graham of the West Midlands Police. “If they choose to continue showing it, that’s a matter for them.”
In a statement, BBC Films said: “We are appalled by the incident at Star City and our thoughts are with all those affected by it._Blue Story_is an outstanding, critically acclaimed debut feature which powerfully depicts the futility of gang violence. It’s an important film from one of the U.K.’s most exciting new filmmakers which we’re proud to be part of.”
Commenting on the decision to remove the film from Showcase Cinemas, a spokesperson said: “The safety of our guests is of the utmost importance. Due to the recent incidents tied to screenings of the film_Blue Story_, after careful consideration with the film’s distributor, Showcase Cinemas has immediately removed the film from our all of our participating cinemas. Any guests that have purchased tickets in advance can receive a full refund at the cinema box office. We remain in discussions with the distributor with regards to the possibility of re-introducing the film in due course. We apologise for any inconvenience but guest safety remains our top priority.”
_Empire_also contacted Vue Cinemas for comment and their spokesperson issued the following statement: "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.
"This decision is not, as some have alleged, based on biased assumptions or concern about the content of the film itself. 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."