Preston cinema bans gang film Blue Story after 'machete brawl' at Birmingham screening

A Preston cinema has banned a controversial gang-themed film after a brawl erupted at a screening in Birmingham.

By Matthew Calderbank
Monday, 25th November 2019, 1:51 pm
Updated Monday, 25th November 2019, 2:21 pm
Vue said it will no longer be showing the film at any of its 91 UK venues. Pic: Google
Vue said it will no longer be showing the film at any of its 91 UK venues. Pic: Google

Seven police officers were injured after gangs of youths, some armed with machetes, clashed at a cinema screening in the city on Saturday evening (November 23).

Six teenagers, including four 14-year-olds and a 13-year-old girl, were arrested after the brawl and have been bailed by police.

Vue, which runs the Star City cinema in Birmingham, said it will no longer be showing the film at any of its 91 UK venue, including Preston's Capitol Centre outlet.

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Showcase Cinema became the second cinema chain to withdraw gang film Blue Story from its venues after the mass brawl at a screening in Birmingham. Credit: PA

In a statement, Vue said the film opened in 60 of its sites across the UK and Ireland on Friday.

"But during the first 24 hours of the film over 25 significant incidents were reported and escalated to senior management in 16 separate cinemas," it said.

"This is the biggest number we have ever seen for any film in a such a short time frame."

Odeon Cinemas said it will continue to show the film, but said it is 'reviewing its security measures' for Blue Story screenings.

The cinema chain did not specify what security measures would be introduced, but it is understood cinema-goers might be searched before being admitted.

Odeon has three screenings per day scheduled for the film at Preston Docks, with the earliest screening at 4.10pm - less than an hour after school closing time.

It is rated 15 for very strong language, strong violence, threat, sex, and drug misuse.

An Odeon spokesman said: "We are aware of reports of violence at cinemas which have been linked to the film Blue Story.

"The safety of our guests and colleagues is our number one priority.

"We have a number of security measures in place for this film, and are currently reviewing these along with our programming, in order to continue to put the safety of our guests first."

Showcase Cinemas, which does not operate any cinemas in Lancashire, has also withdrawn the film from its 21 outlets across the UK.

A Showcase spokesman said: "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 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 reintroducing the film in due course.

"We apologise for any inconvenience but guest safety remains our top priority."

West Midlands Police officers were forced to draw Tasers and used a dispersal order to clear about 100 youths from the Birmingham venue on Saturday.

Footage from inside the multiplex appeared to show fights and people on the floor screaming.

Blue Story's writer and director, Andrew Onwubolu, has condemned the incident and said that his film is about "love not violence".

Onwubolu, also known as Rapman, described the disorder as "truly unfortunate".

Writing on Instagram on Sunday afternoon, 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. Bluestory is a film about love not violence."

The film focuses on two friends from different south London postcodes, on rival sides of a street war.

Onwubolu added: "I pray that we can all learn to live with love and treat each other with tolerance and respect."