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Blue Story is returning to Vue cinemas after racism backlash

The Andrew Onwubolu-directed film was withdrawn from cinemas last week

Blue Story is returning to screens following a backlash about it being pulled from Vue cinemas last week, with the chief of the cinema chain insisting that race was never part of the equation.

The Andrew Onwubolu-directed film, which follows two childhood friends as they get caught up in gangs from rival postcodes, was withdrawn by the cinema chain after seven police officers were injured in a fight at Star City cinema in Birmingham last week.

But Onwubolu told BBC Breakfast that there was “no connection” between the Birmingham fight at his movie, questioning whether there were “hidden reasons”. 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.”

Tim Richards, the founder and chief executive of Vue International, said the company had “agonised” over decisions to pull the film, but maintains he pulled the film after 25 incidents at 16 cinemas jeopardized the safety of staff and customers.

“Birmingham was part of our decision, but just a part of it,” he said. “I have spent 20 years of my life supporting and promoting diversity and British and independent film.”

He continued: “To call me personally or corporately racist is very, very disturbing and with no merit at all. Racism does not enter into the equation at all. Never has. It’s the opposite.”

According to Richards, there is a “game plan” to reinstate the film before the weekend. “That’s really our belief in the film and the message that the movie has,” he said. “We’ve listened to the community and we know that this is an important movie for people to see.”