Theater Defends Pulling Movie After Machete Mob Incident

blue story trailer still

Over the weekend, a Birmingham theater owned and operated by Vue cinemas dealt with a massive mob brawl that involved machetes and other weapons. Upwards of 100 teenagers were involved in the incident, which started while Blue Story and Frozen II were options to screen at the theater. In response, Vue pulled Blue Story from its theaters and is now defending the decision to do so.

As part of Vue’s statement, the theater chain said Blue Story, which is about two friends who become rivals on the streets and violence ensues, led to over “25 significant” incidents over the weekend when it was released in only 60 theatrical locations. That large number led the chain to pull the movie. Per Vue:

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 24 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.

In a statement (via Deadline), the theater chain defended its decision to pull the Paramount and BBC Films movie Blue Story from each of its locations, including the Star City complex where the machete mob occurred.

It’s not the only theater that has pulled Blue Story from its theatrical release. Showcase cinemas also pulled the movie in the U.K temporarily. Ultimately, however, it looks as if Blue Story will live to see another day in Showcase cinemas, as that theater chain noted yesterday:

We took the decision to temporarily suspend screenings of Blue Story 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 – and that of our staff members – is our absolute priority.

Currently, there is no U.S. release for Blue Story even planned. The movie looks at gang violence on the streets of London and is based on a popular YouTube series "Shiro's Story." The movie’s director Andrew Onwubolu also spoke out to pray for those involved and to clarify his opinion on Blue Story getting pulled, which he compared to Joker incidents.

A photo posted by on

The brawl in question left seven police officers with facial injuries, it led to the arrest of five teenagers and batons, tasers and dogs all had to be used to bring the machete mob to an end. Unfortunately, at the time of the incident, a lot of families had been seeing Frozen II and inadvertently ended up near the fray. No one was seriously injured, but the situation was clearly not one a theater chain would hope for.

The violence has not officially been linked to the Blue Story screening, but given the subject matter and the fact the movie also has characters wielding machetes, it would not be a surprise to learn this is why Vue made the correlation. You can take a look at the official trailer for the movie below.

Earlier this year there were similar concerns about Joker screenings, but those incidents mostly seemed to be limited to a few oddball interactions in theaters and pranksters putting up signage about no-singles being allowed.

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Jessica Rawden is Managing Editor at CinemaBlend. She’s been kicking out news stories since 2007 and joined the full-time staff in 2014. She oversees news content, hiring and training for the site, and her areas of expertise include theme parks, rom-coms, Hallmark (particularly Christmas movie season), reality TV, celebrity interviews and primetime. She loves a good animated movie. Jessica has a Masters in Library Science degree from Indiana University, and used to be found behind a reference desk most definitely not shushing people. She now uses those skills in researching and tracking down information in very different ways.