Theatrical release poster
|Based on||Blue Story|
|Music by||Jonathon Deering|
|Edited by||Mdhamiri Á Nkemi|
|Distributed by||Paramount Pictures|
|Box office||£4.7 million|
Blue Story is a 2019 British crime drama film written, directed, and narrated by Rapman (Andrew Onwubolu) through the medium of rap. The film is Rapman's feature directorial debut and is based on his 2014 YouTube series of the same name, based on true events.
The film was released in the United Kingdom on 22 November 2019.
Blue Story is the tragic tale of best friends Marco and Timmy who, from different areas of London (Peckham and Deptford), find themselves becoming enemies in a violent and insidious postcode war. Blue Story is based around events of Rapman's own personal experiences growing up  in Deptford, in the London Borough of Lewisham, and being sent to school in Peckham, in the London Borough of Southwark, thereby crossing gang-affiliated borders. The film depicts real life gangs Peckham Boys and Ghetto Boys.
- Stephen Odubola as Timmy
- Micheal Ward as Marco
- Khali Best as Killy
- Karla-Simone Spence as Leah
- Eric Kofi-Abrefa as Switcher
- Kadeem Ramsey as Hakeem
- Junior Afolabi Salokun as Madder
- Rohan Nedd as Dwayne
- Sean Sager as Skitzer
- Tuwaine Barrett as Big T
- Richie Campbell as Tyrone
- Andre Dwayne as Gyalis
- Joshua Blisset as Daps
Rapman and BBC Films developed and co-financed the film, and in late 2018 Paramount Pictures bought worldwide distribution rights for the film. Damian Jones (of DJ Films) and Joy Gharoro-Akpojotor produced the film with Rose Garnett and Eva Yates of BBC Films; Charles Moore and Paul Grindey of Viewfinder, and Rapman were executive producers. Principal photography took place on 28 February 2019. Rapman's previous work includes the YouTube trilogy Shiro's Story.
The film had a budget of £1.3 million and was primarily shot in the London Borough of Enfield after Lewisham and other London boroughs refused to allow shooting, due to instructions from the office of the London Mayor, Sadiq Khan, although the director says no one at the mayor's office had actually read the script.
The film was released on 22 November 2019. Vue Cinemas and Showcase Cinemas in the UK decided to stop screening the film after an outbreak of violence during the film being shown at a cinema in Birmingham. Showcase resumed screenings a few days later. The film was released for digital rental in the U.S. on May 5, 2020, after the limited theatrical release was cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic in the country.
On the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film has an approval rating of 91%, based on 33 reviews, with an average rating of 6.82/10. The website's consensus reads, "Raw and riveting, Blue Story overcomes its somewhat prosaic story with powerful performances and an impressive clarity of purpose." Mike McCahill of The Guardian gave the film 3/5 and called it "An assured and capably performed morality play." BBC Films say the film "powerfully depicts the futility of gang violence".
Awards and recognition
The film was short-listed alongside nine other films by British Academy of Film and Television Arts for the category of outstanding debut by a British writer, director or producer but did not make it in the final nominations. Micheal Ward has won the EE BAFTA Rising Star award.
Birmingham machete incident
On 23 November 2019, The Independent reported that during a screening of Blue Story at Star City in Birmingham, England, police were attacked by a group armed with machetes. Police arrested five teenagers. Families were watching Frozen II when the disorder broke out, sparking an evacuation of the Star City complex, with police stating up to 100 teenagers were involved in the major disorder.
A spokesperson for West Midlands Police stated that "Dozens of officers were sent to the complex after a 999 call just after 5.30pm reporting a group of youths with machetes. Two machetes were seized during the trouble, which saw pockets of fighting and seven police officers left with minor injuries as they dealt with the crowds in and around the cinema." On 24 November 2019, West Midlands Police reported that a sixth teenager had been added to those arrested, which had included a female aged 13, a male and female both aged 14 and a 19-year-old man.
Following the disorder at Star City, the Vue Cinemas chain cancelled all screenings of Blue Story. A statement from Vue said that during the first 24 hours of the film more than 25 significant incidents were reported and escalated to senior management in 16 separate cinemas. Cinema chain Showcase subsequently also ceased showing the film, but the Odeon and Cineworld chains continued to screen it. The ban by Showcase and Vue was labelled as racist by some people on social media, with Showcase later reversing their decision. The film's director Rapman also questioned the reasons behind the ban.
Vue also said they would re-start showings, with increased security.
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- Balloo, Stephanie (24 November 2019). "New police statement: Schoolgirls among teenagers arrested as machete riot breaks out at Star City". The Birmingham Mail. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
- West Midlands Police Editors (24 November 2019). "UPDATED: Sixth teenager arrested after Star City violence leaves seven officers injured". West Midlands Police. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
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- "Vue boss plans to rescreen banned film". 28 November 2019 – via www.bbc.co.uk.