Cinema chain reinstates gangland film with 'increased security'
Showcase Cinemas has reversed its decision to cancel all screenings of the gangland film Blue Story.
The chain said it was reinstating the London street war drama with extra security after “careful consideration and discussions with the distributor”, just hours after it was pulled from its multiplexes across the country.
Showcase had announced it would be following rival firm Vue in banning the film, with the latter having revealed more than a dozen of its cinemas had faced problems linked to its release.
In an updated statement released on Monday night, Showcase said: “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 reinstate screenings supported with increased security protocols and will be doing so from this evening.”
The statement added that the safety of guests and staff was the “absolute priority”, with concerns around the film having arisen following reports of young people with machetes at a Vue cinema in Birmingham on Saturday.
Vue later announced that it was withdrawing the film, despite having implemented increased security, reducing the number of showings and completely removing late-night screenings.
Seven police officers were injured in the mass brawl on Saturday evening, which was thought to involve 100 people close to the cinema, and five teenagers were arrested – including a 13-year-old girl.
West Midlands Police said it made no recommendations about pulling the 15-rated film, which is centred on two friends from different areas of south London who end up on rival sides of a gang war.
Other cinema chains including Odeon and Cineworld have continued to show the film despite the controversy, and the companies behind it have insisted it deserves to be seen.
Producer BBC Films described it as an “outstanding, critically acclaimed debut feature which powerfully depicts the futility of gang violence”, while distributor Paramount Pictures said it was “an important film”.
Director and writer Andrew Onwubolu, who is known as Rapman, also spoke out on Instagram on Sunday.
He said the incident in Birmingham was “unfortunate”, but said he hoped it would not reflect on the film.
“Sending love to all those involved in yesterday’s violence at Star City in Birmingham,” he said.
“It’s truly unfortunate that a small group of people can ruin things for everybody.
“Blue Story is a film about love not violence.”
Onwubolu compared the release of Blue Story to that of Joker, citing a “few incidents” surrounding that film, with one US cinema cancelling screenings following what was described as a “credible” threat.
Joker went on to become one of the most critically-acclaimed releases of the year and the most profitable comic book film ever made, as well as the highest-grossing R-rated film of all-time.
Onwubolu said: “It’s always unfortunate, but I hope that the blame is placed with the individuals and not an indictment of the film itself. I pray we can all learn to live with love and treat each other with tolerance and respect.”