Writer and producer Rapman (Andrew Onwubolu) turned his hugely successful three-part YouTube series Shiros Story into the hard-hitting feature, Blue Story.
Backed by BBC Films and Paramount Picture, Rapmans feature focuses on violent gang rivalry on the streets of London and the surge of rising knife crime and gun attacks which often end with tragic consequences. It follows two best friends from south London who are separated by a gang war between the postcodes where they live.
Following a violent incident in the foyer of Birmingham Star City cinema this weekend, Vue Cinemas has pulled the feature from all its 91 cinemas in the UK and Ireland. Seven police officers were injured as they arrested five teenagers and used Tasers to clear a crowd of up to 100 people from the cinema, which was then closed for the night.
Rapman spoke out about the decision on Instagram and Twitter on Sunday, and said Saturday’s incident was “truly unfortunate”.
ðŸ™ðŸ¾ðŸ’œ pic.twitter.com/wLNbbp7snK— Rapman (@RealRapman) November 24, 2019
Some people on Twitter have questioned why Blue Story has been pulled.
So are you banning every movie that was screening at that time or just Blue Story.— Tolly (@tolly_t) November 24, 2019
Do you lot know how exhausting you make life for us. @vuecinemas
Vue gave a statement that said; “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. Unfortunately, the actions of a significant few have spoiled the opportunity for others, but we stand by our decision to withdraw the film from our schedule indefinitely.”
On Monday 25th of November, Showcase Cinemas initially confirmed it would also no longer be showing the film at its branches however Showcase has now re-instated its screenings.
In a statement, a Showcase spokesperson said: “We took the decision to temporarily suspend screenings ofÂ Blue StoryÂ to enable us to assess the situation. After careful consideration and discussions with the distributor in the last 24 hours, we have come up with a plan to re-instate screenings of the film supported with increased security protocols and will be doing so from this evening. We want to reassure our guests that their safety â€“ and that of our staff members â€“ is our absolute priority.”
BBC Films defended its product, saying Blue Story is an “important film”, which aims to show the “futility of gang violence”.
A spokesperson for BBC Films said: â€œWe are appalled by the incident at Star City and our thoughts are with all those affected by it.”Blue Story is an outstanding, critically acclaimed debut feature which powerfully depicts the futility of gang violence. Itâ€™s an important film from one of the UKâ€™s most exciting new filmmakers which weâ€™re proud to be part of.â€