Director Rapman Attacks Cinema Chain Vue for Pulling 'Blue Story'

Rapman - 2019 Roc Nation THE BRUNCH on February 9, 2019 - Getty-H 2019
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"Vue say that there's been a number of incidents, but where's the proof, the evidence," the filmmaker said over the decision to pull Paramount's London gangland drama.

British director Andrew Onwubolu — better known as Rapman — has spoken out against U.K. theater chain Vue over its decision to withdraw his Paramount-backed London gangland drama Blue Story from its cinemas. 

On Sunday, Vue announced that it was pulling the film following a brawl involving a machete in the lobby of a cinema in Birmingham. It later doubled down on its decision following a major backlash, stating on Monday that it was made after more than "25 significant incidents" had been reported in 16 of its cinemas in just 24 hours. 

But Rapman has now questioned this claim and the motives of the cinema chain. "Vue say that there's been a number of incidents, but where's the proof, the evidence," he told BBC Breakfast on Wednesday morning. "The one incident that they’re taking about was on camera. We live in a camera generation. Anything happens, the youth are going to film that. How come we haven’t seen any footage of the rest of these incidents?”

Rapman also said he felt that Vue claimed there had been additional incidents to "cover their decision, which already wasn’t justified because the incident had no connection to Blue Story."

Following two London friends who become rivals in local gang wars, Blue Story was made off the back of Rapman's hugely popular YouTube miniseries Shiro's Story and stars Stephen Odubola and Michael Ward (Top Boy). Rather than glorify violence, the musician turned filmmaker — who escaped London's gang scene himself — has said that he wanted to highlight the futility of gangland culture and its origins.

"I want people who see the film to learn that these kids are not all spawns of Satan," he told the BBC. "They didn't come from child abuse or neglectful mothers. What kids go through in the school playground is so intense, it all starts there."

In a new statement, Vue founder Tim Richard said that he hadn't seen a nationwide issue such as that with Blue Story affecting so many cinemas in such a short space of time "in over 30 years" of working in the U.K.'s cinema industry. "We have reviewed and assessed each and every incident in detail as part of our ongoing process of making decisions as to how we could possibly keep Blue Story on our screens,” he said. “We wholeheartedly agree that the issues that have arisen are not about the film, but neither are they about Vue."

At the U.K. box office, Blue Story earned an impressive $1.67 million in its opening weekend, landing in the third spot behind Last Christmas and a record-breaking Frozen 2. However, according to Rapman, Vue's decision has since seen the film lose nearly half its screens from the original tally of more than 300.