LONDON (AP) — Two British cinema chains on Monday defended their decision to pull a film set among London street gangs after a brawl broke out at a movie theater where it was showing.
Showcase Cinemas and Vue said they would no longer screen “Blue Story,” which centers on two friends who find themselves on opposing sides of a violent neighborhood rivalry.
Police say dozens of youths, several carrying machetes, clashed at Vue’s Star City theater in Birmingham, central England, on Saturday. Six teenagers aged 13 to 19 were arrested and seven officers were slightly hurt.
Police did not directly connect Saturday’s brawl to “Blue Story,” which was one of several movies showing at the venue. But Vue said Monday there had been more than 25 “significant incidents” at theaters screening the movie.
News that the film had been withdrawn sparked calls on social media for a boycott of the cinema chains.
The movie opened in U.K. cinemas last week and has been praised by critics, with The Observer singling out its “clarity, energy and rhythm.”
The film’s director, Andrew Onwubolu, said it was “truly unfortunate that a small group of people can ruin things for everybody.”
Onwubolu, who also performs as Rapman, said on Instagram that the movie is “about love not violence.”
In a statement, Vue said the decision to withdraw the movie was made “on grounds of safety alone” and “is not, as some have alleged, based on biased assumptions or concern about the content of the film itself.”
Showcase said “guest safety remains our top priority.”
Several other U.K. movie chains are still showing “Blue Story.”
Distributor Paramount said Monday that “this is an important film, which we’ve seen play in more than 300 cinemas across the country, with incredibly positive reactions and fantastic reviews.”