Gang film Blue Story to return to Sheffield screens as Vue boss overturns ban

A film that was banned from cinemas after a number of violent brawls took place at screenings will return to Vue cinema screens, including the one at Meadowhall.

Friday, 29th November 2019, 12:08 pm
Stephen Odubola, Rapman and Michael Ward attend the "Blue Story" world premiere at Picturehouse Central on November 14, 2019 in London, England.

The film was pulled by cinemas following a mass brawl involving youths with machetes at a screening in Birmingham.

There were also a number of other violent incidents including one at Cineworld in Sheffield that saw police deployed to Valley Centertainment on Saturday and Sunday.

However, director Andrew Onwubolu told BBC Breakfast there was “no connection” between the Birmingham brawl and his movie, and questioned whether there were “hidden reasons”.

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Vue cinema bosses plan to have Blue Story screening at their cinemas again by this weekend.

Now Vue Cinema’s chief executive Tim Richards has said that Blue Story will return to screens following the backlash about it being pulled, with some claiming the decision to ban the film was racially motivated.

Mr Richards insisted that race played no part in the decision, and said that security at the cinemas will be “beefed up” to ensure people’s safety.

South Yorkshire Police have been contacted about whether they will increase their presence at Vue cinemas at the Blue Story screenings.

Mr Richards said he “agonised” over the decision to pull the film, but had to prioritise the safety of staff and customers after 25 incidents at 16 cinemas. He insisted that race did not play a part in the decision.

“Birmingham was part of our decision, but just a part of it,” he said.

Richards went on: “I have spent 20 years of my life supporting and promoting diversity and British and independent film.

“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.”

Richards said he knew Blue Story was “an important movie” and that he had never wanted to withdraw it.

He added that there was now a “game plan” to have the film screening at Vue cinemas by the weekend.

Mr Richards added: “We’ve listened to the community and we know that this is an important movie for people to see.

“The whole discussion is about why are teenagers leaving their homes with machetes, with knives, when they go out.

“That’s what the discussion is about. That’s a broader discussion, and not a movie industry discussion, it’s a social discussion in Britain.”

Mr Onwubolu, also known as Rapman, tweeted following the news writing: “Thanks to ALL of your cries for justice @vue have decided to reinstate the @bluestorymovie back into their screens starting this weekend.

“Thank you to everyone who fought for this movie like it was their own. We made a lot of noise and now we’ve been heard”.

Blue Story tells the story of two friends from different London boroughs who are drawn into a gang war where which side you are on is decided by your postcode.

Vue said in a statement: “We were disappointed to have to make the decision to remove Blue Story from our screens earlier this week, a decision to protect our customers and staff following major incidents connected with the film at 16 of our cinemas all across the country.

“We said at the time that this is a fantastic film and one with a very powerful message – that is why we wanted to show this film.

“We want to do that while ensuring, above all else, the safety of our customers and colleagues.

“We also understand the powerful reaction to our decision and we have spoken with interested parties, including the film producers, Paramount, our security advisers and most importantly our own operational teams who manage our cinemas on a day-to-day basis.

“Following an ongoing review of security to protect the safety of our staff and customers we hope to be showing the film from this weekend, with additional security arrangements in our cinemas, to ensure everyone can enjoy the film in comfort and safety.”

The company said that during the first 24 hours of screenings, Vue recorded 25 incidents, which they said were significant and directly related, in 16 cinemas.

These were documented with CCTV footage, police call logs, and detailed incident reports to security or medical authorities, and in a dozen of those incidents, the police had to be called.