Vue has banned gang film Blue Story from all its cinemas after a mass brawl in Birmingham last night.
A recorded message on its answerphone said the movie will no longer be screened at any of its venues.
Families were at the Nechells multiplex in Star City ready to enjoy the first opening Saturday of Frozen II when a machete-wielding gang turned up.
Two schoolgirls, a boy and a man were arrested and seven police officers were injured as dozens of officers swarmed the area just after 5.30pm on November 23.
People were evacuated as Vue cinema managers decided to close the venue.
A 13-year-old girl has been arrested after police officers were attacked in a machete brawl yesterday afternoon. This shocking picture shows a young gang armed with a weapon and was circulated on social media after police descended on cinema complex Star City in Birmingham
A brawl broke out at Star City cinema in Birmingham this afternoon after a ‘group of people arrived with machetes’. The teenager has been arrested along side a girl and boy aged 14, and 19-year-old man who are being held on suspicion of assaulting police officers, while another boy, 14, has been arrested for obstructing police (Pictured: Crowds inside the cinema)
Police rushed to the scene with guard dogs where they found a crowd of 100 people where fighting had started ‘in pockets’. It is also claimed that officers were carrying tasers
According to Birmingham Live, the message from Vue said: ‘We regret that we will no longer be screening the film Blue Story at any of our venues.
‘Should you have a booking for this film, please say cancellation when prompted and a member of our team will be with you shortly to assist you with your booking.’
On Sunday morning, there were 50-minute waits for refunds for cancelled tickets.
A former Birmingham cinema manager has said the film’s distributor should consider pulling Blue Story out of all of the city’s cinemas in the wake of the fight last night.
Blue Story, a 15-rated film which came out on Friday, is a London gangland drama about two boys from different postcodes.
The 91-minute film was directed by Andrew Onwubolu aka rap artist Rapman.
Cineworld Broad Street and Odeon Broadway Plaza have also been screening the film but neither has said whether that will change.
Former city cinema manager Michael Mclean said: ‘If I was still running a cinema in Birmingham, I would personally make the call to London asking my bosses to pull this film – and the distributor should consider pulling it out of the city, too.
‘At the very least, only show it in daytime.
‘Cinema staff have an obligation to try to do the right thing (whenever any incident arises).
‘But they are not paid to deal with this kind of situation and if I was a manager I would not want to put them at risk – never mind families who just want to see Frozen II.
‘Young children should not be seeing this sort of behaviour in cinemas.’
West Midlands police said some of the police officers were arrested when they arrived at the scene. They flooded the site as the major incident unfolded and cops put the cinema on lockdown
A group of at least eight police officers were pictured standing on the roadside at the cinema after police cars blocked off access to the venue
Blue Story was given a 15 certificate by the BBFC which included the following ratings info: ‘Very strong language, strong violence, threat, sex, drug misuse.’
It said the film was ‘a drama in which a friendship between two boys is jeopardised by gang violence’ and that it has ‘passed the work uncut.’
The BBFC added there was infrequent use of very strong language (‘c’) as well as strong language (‘f’) and other terms.
As for the violence, the BBFC said there were ‘shootings and stabbings, with resultant bloody detail. It is implied that two men hold a victim’s arm, while a third attacker breaks it with a stamp.’
Recalling his own fears about trouble in his cinema a decade ago, Michael said he had such doubts about Penny Woolcock’s film 1Day (2009) putting his staff at risk that he advised various cinemas across the city not to screen it.
The film explored rivalry in Birmingham and Michael had understood some real life gang members had been paid to be ‘advisors’.
‘I called our London office and told them what I thought the risks were,’ he said.
‘I also rang round all of the city cinemas and, in the end, nobody showed it.
”I knew what could happen if anyone did.
‘The night it opened in Wolverhampton, there was a stabbing.
‘If I was told I had to a show a film where I thought there was potential for trouble (inside the cinema) I would increase security at the door and only let in peoole who I thought would not be a problem.’
Groups were seen leaving the cinema complex which was evacuated and children who were at the cinema were being collected by worried parents
A number of police officers rushed to the area after being called at 5.30pm. There were reports of machetes being wielded at the cinema
Michael saw Blue Story on November 15 during an Unlimited screening at Cineworld Broad Street a week before its release.
‘The film is about gangland violence in London where two friends end up on rival sides and hunting each other down in a bid to kill the other,’ said Michael.
‘It is better made and with better performances than I expected, but I generally don’t like that kind of film.
‘Though not as violent as Joker, I felt that Blue Story glorified the violence and that there was no redemption – just when we have a massive crime situation going on across the country and in Birmingham city centre.
‘Having been in made in London along streets where I have walked, it seemed too close to home, to me.
‘I am surprised that something like this has happened at Vue Star City in one sense, but if there has been violence associated with this film then I am also not surprised.’
Michael added: ‘I can remember two previous massive incidents years ago at Star City including one when the cinema had to be shut down then.’
Although some screens have been mothballed, the complex was Britain’s biggest cinema with 30 screens.
Warner Village opened it on July 21, 2000, when director Wolfgang Petersen and stars George Clooney and Mark Wahlberg briefly flew in for the premiere of The Perfect Storm.
The site was later taken over by Vue Cinemas which launched a multiplex price war in May, 2018 when tickets bought on site were reduced to £4.99.
Five police cars pictured next to Star Cinema in Birmingham yesterday evening. It is understood that families and children had been there to see Frozen 2
Two police cars pictured blocking off the entrance to Star City. The complex was then evacuated
A policeman pictured at the Star City around 5.30pm yesterday following reports of a group wielding machetes at the venue
In May this year, an inquest jury recorded a verdict of accidental death after father-of-one Ateeq Rafiq,24, died of a catastrophic brain injury after his head became wedged in an automatic footrest at the Vue Multiplex.
Mr Rafiq and his wife Ayesha Sardar went to the complex at 4.30pm on March 9, 2017 and had been sitting in Gold Class seats, screen 17.
Leading film magazine Empire said ‘It’s well told with a worthwhile, if not especially revolutionary message – gang wars are not worth dying for, and you don’t have to follow the cycle.’
International magazine Sight & Sound said Blue Story offered ‘Sobering scenes from the postcode wars* it’s confident work that crucially doesn’t condescend to the youth audience best placed to receive its sobering pacifist message.’
Industry magazine Screendaily.com said: ‘There’s something about Blue Story which is infectious. It might catch on. There’s a message in here, and if only the target audience shows up, Rapman’s job will have been done.
Meanwhile, he seems destined for bigger things.’
Blue Story is a tragic tale of a friendship between Timmy and Marco, two young boys from opposing postcodes. Timmy, a shy, smart, naive and timid young boy from Deptford, goes to school in Peckham where he strikes up a friendship with Marco, a charismatic, streetwise kid from the local area.
Although from warring postcodes, the two quickly form a firm friendship until it is tested and they wind up on rival sides of a street war.
Blue Story depicts elements of Rapman’s own personal experiences and aspects of his childhood. The messages he aims to send through his works are positive ones, aimed at inspiring kids from difficult backgrounds to turn away from local gangs.