Portsmouth culture boss hits out as gang film Blue Story is axed from Vue cinema in Gunwharf Quays

A BAFFLED city culture chief has dubbed a cinema’s move to ban a controversial gang film – which sparked a mass brawl between machete-wielding youths – as ‘strange’.

Monday, 25th November 2019, 12:05 pm
Updated Monday, 25th November 2019, 3:40 pm
Vue cinema, in Portsmouth, is among the 91 venues to axe screenings of the film Blue Story following violence at a cinema in Birmingham.

Councillor Steve Pitt, deputy leader of Portsmouth City Council, has hit out over the decision by cinema chain, Vue to withdraw showings of Blue Story in all its 91 outlets - including the one at Gunwharf Quays.

It comes after violence erupted in Birmingham’s Star Cinema on Saturday, which left seven police officers hurt.

Six teenagers, including four 14-year-olds and a 13-year-old girl, were arrested in connection with the disorder and have been bailed by police.

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Undated handout file videograb showing police officers inside the Star City cinema in Birmingham after a large brawl broke out resulting in a number of police officers being assaulted. Showcase Cinema has become the second cinema chain to withdraw gang film Blue Story from its venues after the mass brawl at a screening in Birmingham. Photo credit should read: Rachel Allison/PA Wire

Now a second company, Showcase Cinemas – which has an outlet in Southampton – has banned Blue Story, while chains Cineworld and Odeon continue to show it at venues in Whiteley and Southampton.

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Here's why you won't be able to see Blue Story at Vue cinema in Gunwharf Quays

Veteran Liberal Democrat, Cllr Pitt, insisted Portsmouth ‘doesn’t have a gang problem’ and that the decision to scrap the film was overzealous.

‘This whole decision seems a little odd,’ he said. ‘It’s fairly strange that other cinema chains will be showing it while Vue is not.

Baffled: Cllr Steve Pitt, deputy leader of Portsmouth City Council and the city's culture boss.

‘Obviously as a company they have to take this decision. Whether that’s to respect what happened or not, I’m not sure.

‘Companies have to take their own view about the potential risks. But is it likely that in some more provincial cinemas there will be a repeat of this violence? I think that’s a bit of a reach.’

‘We do not have a gang culture in Portsmouth,’ he continued.

Blue Story's writer and director, Andrew Onwubolu, condemned the incident in Birmingham. Writing on Instagram, he said: ‘Sending love to all those involved in yesterday's violence at Star City in Birmingham.

‘It's truly unfortunate that a small group of people can ruin things for everybody. Bluestory is a film about love not violence.’

The film focuses on two friends from different south London postcodes, on rival sides of a street war.

It is rated 15 for very strong language, strong violence, threat, sex, and drug misuse.

A Vue spokesman said: ‘We can confirm a decision was made to remove the film. The safety and welfare of our customers and staff is always our first priority.’