Vue Responds To Allegations Of Racism After Pulling Blue Story From Cinemas

The film was pulled after a mass brawl took place in Birmingham.

Blue Story premiere

by Georgia Aspinall |
Updated on

Cinema chains Vue and Showcase have stopped showing the critically acclaimed Blue Story, which depicts ‘the futility of gang violence’, after a brawl involving teenagers armed with machetes took place in Birmingham over the weekend. Now, Vue – the first company to pull the film – has responded to subsequent allegations of racism.

‘The decision to withdraw Blue Story was not one taken lightly or without careful consideration of our experience across the country,’ a spokesperson for Vue told Grazia. ‘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,’ the statement continued. ‘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.’

The removal of Blue Story, which is a BBC-backed film, caused controversy over the weekend with many accusing the cinema franchise of racism given that they are currently playing similarly violent films with majority-white casts. For example, Joker, Terminator: Dark Fate and The Good Liar are all still available to watch despite concerns about violent implications – especially around Joker.

It's been pointed out that the brawl in Birmingham occurred at the same time as a Frozen 2 showing and many of the children arrested were not actually old enough to see Blue Story. Vue, however, is contesting allegations of racism, saying its choice to pull the film is not based on concern about the film content itself.

‘This decision is not, as some have alleged, based on biased assumptions or concern about the content of the film itself,’ the spokesperson said. ‘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.’

Of course, if the decision was not based on the film's content – that is, gang-related violence – and other similarly violent films are still showing, it begs the question, what was the decision based on then? If not about the film itself, then isolated incidents of violence during screen showings are surely to do with the cinemas themselves, not the film.

‘It’s truly unfortunate that a small group of people can ruin things for everybody,’ Blue Story’s director Andrew Onwubolu, known as Rapman, said on Instagram. ’Blue Story is a film about love not violence. There were also a few incidents earlier this year with the release of The joke, it’s always unfortunate, but I hope that the blame is placed with the individuals and not an indictment of the film itself.'

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