When people go to the movies, the only violence they want to see and should see, is whatever is taking place onscreen in their chosen film. Sadly, with all manner of crazy movie theater stories, that is not always the case and it certainly wasn’t across the pond this past weekend, when a machete brawl at a theater prompted the mass screening cancellation of a new release film.
The brawl took place in the Vue Cinemas location at the Star City leisure complex in Birmingham, England on Saturday night when many families were out seeing Frozen II. According to The Guardian, a brawl involving up to 100 teenagers erupted at the theater and based on the social media accounts of the incident, police used batons and tasers and brought in dogs to quell the unrest.
Five teenagers, ages 13 to 19, were arrested. Four of the teens were arrested for assaulting police officers, while the fifth was arrested for obstructing the police. Following the incident, police officers recovered two machetes and a knife from the scene. Thankfully, no one was killed and it doesn’t sound like anyone was severely injured, but seven police officers did suffer facial injuries.
One of the movies playing at the Vue Cinemas theater in Birmingham was the new release Blue Story. The film from writer-director Andrew Onwulbolu is about a violent gang war in south London. As a result of this brawl, Blue Story has been pulled from nearly 100 Vue Cinemas theaters throughout the United Kingdom.
Vue Cinemas is the third-largest theater chain in the region and cited the safety and welfare of its customers and staff as the reason to remove the film. As of yet the West Midlands police have not established what incited the violence at the theater or whether or not it actually began in a screening of Blue Story.
However, given the content of the film it is not hard to see how correlations were drawn, whether correct or incorrect, between the violence at the theater and Blue Story and why the decision was made to pull the film. The trailer for Blue Story actually has footage of people wielding machetes so the parallels between art and life at least appear blurred here.
Director Andrew Onwulbolu, also known as Rapman, released a statement saying that the film was “about love not violence” and hoping that the individuals involved in the brawl are held responsible for their own actions and that his film is not indicted for the incident.
Despite an outcry on social media criticizing the cancellation of Blue Story screenings, Vue Cinemas has elaborated on its decision. According to Deadline, the theater chain released a statement, noting that in the 24 hours since the film’s release on November 22, over 25 significant incidents in 16 separate Vue Cinemas locations were reported and escalated up to management. According to Vue, that number in that time frame is the biggest it has ever seen.
So while Vue praised the film itself and said that this is not an indictment of it or its content, the decision was made for safety reasons. Showcase Cinemas in the UK followed suit and has also dropped screenings of Blue Story, while Odeon is still evaluating its position. It is an unfortunate situation all around and sadly, will be the main story surrounding this film.
Blue Story does not have a domestic release as of yet. To see what movies are headed to theaters next year, check out our 2020 Release Schedule.