Vue Cinemas will reinstate screenings of Blue Story after pulling it following a brawl at the Star City multiplex in Birmingham last week.
They will be providing “additional security arrangements”, maintaining that the sole reason it pulled the film was safety, not because of the film’s content. Incidents connected with the film were reported at 16 other Vue cinemas.
The ground breaking film about childhood friendships in the midst of postcode wars in south London, is based on director Andrew ‘Rapman’ Onwubolu’s own childhood in Deptford, and much of it is set in Lewisham.
Vue told Eastlondonlines: “We were disappointed to have to make the decision to remove Blue Story from our screens earlier this week. 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 hope to be showing the film from this weekend.”
Showcase Cinemas, who have already reinstated the film, said that upcoming screenings will go ahead “with increased security protocols.”
A Showcase Cinemas spokesman told Eastlondonlines: “After careful consideration and discussions with the distributor, we have come up with a plan to re-instate screenings of the film. We want to reassure our guests that their safety – and that of our staff members – is our absolute priority.”
Rapman told the BBC there was “no connection” between his movie and the brawl in Birmingham, which led to five arrests and involved up to 100 young people, including one who was seen wielding a machete.
The ban caused widespread anger online and led to accusations of institutional racism. Many social media users questioned why Blue Story was pulled when other films continued screening after fights or an increase of online abuse following the release of certain films.
Anti-Muslim threats rocketed following the release of American Sniper in 2014 and a drastic increase in hate speech on social media was reported.
Rapman said: “You start thinking, is there hidden reasons there? What’s the owner like? Has he got an issue with young urban youth? Is he prejudiced? Does he believe that this film brings a certain type? Is there a colour thing?”
Following Vue’s decision to reverse the ban, Rapman tweeted: “Thank you to everyone who fought for this movie like it was their own.”
Block Party Cinema, which celebrates black and multicultural film, told Eastlondonlines: “Opening weekends are critically important in the success of films, especially for films from BAME communities who often have to go through so much more to have their films green-lighted.”
Blue Story made £1.3 million on its opening weekend and has reached number three in the UK box office, despite the bans.