Blue Story Director Defends Film After Cinemas Cancel Screenings Following Violence
The writer and director of a controversial film about gang warfare in London has spoken out after Vue cinemas cancelled all future showings following '25 significant incidents' including a 100 person brawl outside a screening in Birmingham.
As well as terrifying families in the leisure complex in the Nechells area of Birmingham, the tooled up youths also assaulted seven police officers who had arrived to control the fracas.
Vue cinemas has since pulled the film from all of its locations, and Showcase has cancelled screenings in four of its venues, too.
Some people have labelled the ban 'discriminatory and institutionally racist', however, and questioned the need to halt screenings.
Rapman stressed that his film, which tells the story of a postcode war between gangs in London, is 'about love, not violence'.
He 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 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."
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Blue Story is a BBC-backed project that was turned into a film after the success of a YouTube series. It's not clear whether the cinema companies have made the decision permanently, or if these are temporary measures.
A spokesperson for Vue said: "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, November 22, but during the first 245 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 such a short time frame."
Sheila Knowles, who runs events company BBE, told Radio 1 Newsbeat: "People are calling the ban discriminatory and institutionally racist.
"Why is it that the movie is being pulled out of cinemas nationwide when it only happened in one cinema?
"A lot of people are very agitated because it just seems like a very systematic and targeted attack."
A Showcase representative added: "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."
At the time of the violence in Birmingham, the police tweeted: "Officers arrived to find a group of more than 100 people, and pockets of fighting broke out as police moved to clear the area. A number of police officers have been assaulted, and several arrests have been made.
"A dispersal order has been out in place giving officers the power to move on groups of people and arrest those who fail to leave. Officers remain at the scene and are liaising closely with management at the venue. Motorists are urged to avoid the area because of traffic build-up."
Featured Image Credit: Paramount Pictures UK