The chain has been accused of racism after removing screenings of the film following a fight which broke out in the lobby of a Birmingham venue
Cinema chain Vue is being criticised after banning all screenings of Blue Story following a fight at one of its Birmingham venues.
On Saturday night, dozens of teenagers – some of whom were armed with machetes – were involved in a brawl in the lobby of the Star City Vue. After the fight, which saw five people arrested, the chain announced that it would no longer show Blue Story, a film about gang violence in south east London, in any of its 91 outlets across the UK and Ireland.
The decision was met with accusations of racism – with many Twitter users pointing out that the group who caused the violence weren’t black – and the hashtag #BoycottVue began trending on Twitter. Entrepreneur William Adoasi said: “(The fight) 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.”
It’s unclear where exactly the fight broke out – The Independent reported that it was actually during a viewing of Frozen 2, but said witnesses saw the fight start as they queued for screenings and snacks, suggesting the disturbance was in the venue’s lobby. Either way, one thing seems to be for certain: it was not during a screening of Blue Story.
Writer and host of The Receipts Podcast Tolly Shoneye tweeted: “So are you banning every movie that was screening at that time or just Blue Story. Do you lot know how exhausting you make life for us @vuecinemas.”
In an Instagram post, the film’s writer and director Andrew Onwubolu said of Vue’s announcement: “It’s truly unfortunate that a small group of people can ruin things for everybody. Blue Story is a film about love not violence. I hope the blame is placed with the individuals and not an indictment of the film itself.”
Sooooo they fought in the queue? Not the Blue Story viewing? Sooo there’s no actual connection between the two?— diamond.💎 (@NalaMonroe) November 24, 2019
Vue Cinemas issued a statement to Digital Spy which read: “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.”
Blue Story was developed from Onwubolu’s YouTube mini-series, and tells the story of friendship and love against the backdrop of a Peckham and Deptford street rivalry. Speaking to BBC Newsbeat ahead of the film’s release, Onwubolu – AKA Rapman – said he wanted the audience to see past crime statistics and understand how a “good kid” can lose their way.
The unfair ban is reminiscent of the police’s action against drill music, which saw YouTube forced to remove over 100 videos after the Metropolitan Police said the lyrics were inciting violence in London.