24 Hour Party People

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24 Hour Party People
Twenty four hour party people po.jpg
US Theatrical poster
Directed by Michael Winterbottom
Produced by Andrew Eaton
Written by Frank Cottrell Boyce
Starring Steve Coogan
Paddy Considine
Andy Serkis
Paul Popplewell
Shirley Henderson
Lennie James
Sean Harris
Peter Kay
Cinematography Robby Müller
Editing by Trevor Waite
Studio Film4
Revolution Films
Baby Cow Productions
UK Film Council
The Film Consortium
Distributed by Pathé (UK)
United Artists (USA)
Release dates
  • 5 April 2002 (2002-04-05)
Running time 117 minutes
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Box office $2,781,211

24 Hour Party People is a 2002 British comedy-drama film about Manchester's popular music community from 1976 to 1992, and specifically about Factory Records. It was written by Frank Cottrell Boyce and directed by Michael Winterbottom.[1] The film was entered into the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.[2] It was met with very enthusiastic reviews and currently holds a Metacritic score of 85/100. Roger Ebert gave it four out of four stars.

It begins with the punk rock era and moves through the 1980s into the "Madchester" scene of the late 1980s and early 1990s. The main character is Tony Wilson (played by Steve Coogan), a news reporter for Granada Television and the head of Factory Records. The narrative largely follows his career, while also covering the major Factory artists, especially Joy Division and New Order, A Certain Ratio, The Durutti Column, and the Happy Mondays.

The film is a dramatisation based on a combination of real events, rumours, urban legends, and the imaginings of the scriptwriter – as the film makes clear. In one scene, one-time Buzzcocks member Howard Devoto (played by Martin Hancock) is shown having sex with Wilson's first wife in the toilets of a club; the real Devoto, an extra in the scene, turns to the camera and says, "I definitely don't remember this happening". The fourth wall is frequently broken, with Wilson (who also acts as the narrator) frequently commenting on events directly to camera as they occur, at one point declaring that he is "being postmodern, before it's fashionable". The actors are often intercut with real contemporary concert footage, including the Sex Pistols gig at the Lesser Free Trade Hall.


The story opens in the late 1970s in the Pennines, where Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan), reporting for Granada Television embarks on a hang gliding adventure, despite not having any training. After crashing several times and receiving a "rather unfortunate" injury to his coccyx, he walks away, then turns to the camera, breaking the fourth wall, saying the scene was symbolic of what is to come on many levels, mentioning the myth of Icarus.

Wilson is dissatisfied with his job as a television news reporter, finding stories like the hang-gliding stunt unfulfilling, telling his producer, Charles (John Thomson), "I'm a serious fucking journalist ... I went to Cambridge." Wilson then attends a concert in June 1976 at Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall by the Sex Pistols (the Buzzcocks were also to perform but were not ready). Despite only being attended by 42 people, Wilson cites the concert as a great historical event that would inspire attendees to "go out and perform wondrous deeds".

For his part, Wilson, the host of a music show, So It Goes, decides to move beyond just putting bands on television and get into promoting concerts. With some friends, actor Alan Erasmus (Lennie James) and Rob Gretton (Paddy Considine), Wilson starts a weekly series of punk rock shows at a Manchester club. It is during the opening night, and a performance by a band Gretton manages called Joy Division, that Wilson is caught by his wife, Lindsay (Shirley Henderson), getting fellatio from a woman in the back of the club owner Don Tonay (Peter Kay)'s "nosh van" a Ford Transit. She then retaliates by having sexual intercourse in a toilet cubicle with the Buzzcocks' Howard Devoto (Martin Hancock), and is caught by Tony (he was told of this by Alan a few seconds earlier). The real Devoto, portraying a janitor cleaning the bathroom sink, then turns to the camera a few seconds after Wilson passes him by and says "I definitely don't remember this happening."

Wilson continues in the music business, and with his friends, starts Factory Records, signing Joy Division (Sean Harris, John Simm, Ralf Little and Tim Horrocks), led by erratic, brooding lead singer Ian Curtis (Harris), as the first band. Showing his dedication, Wilson prepares a record contract for the band, written in his own blood, giving the artists full control over their music. Irascible producer Martin Hannett (Andy Serkis) is hired to record Joy Division, and though he is difficult to work with – he orders Joy Division drummer Stephen Morris, to dismantle his drum kit and reassemble it on the roof of the studio – the results are the work of genius, and soon Joy Division have a hit record.

The success is short-lived, however, when, just before Joy Division is to tour the United States, Curtis commits suicide by hanging himself in 1980. The news is broken to Wilson as he is preparing to do a news report about a Chester town crier, and the distraught Wilson asks the crier to report on Curtis' death. Joy Division beat the odds and survive the death of their lead singer, going on to rename themselves New Order, and record a number of hit songs, including "Blue Monday".

Factory Records continues with the building of its nightclub, The Haçienda, with an opening night performance by Factory band A Certain Ratio in front of less than 40 customers. The Haçienda shown in the film was not the real club, but a replica built in a Manchester factory space; the original club was closed in 1997 and demolished in 2002, replaced by luxury apartments. The exterior of the building is used in some scenes.[3] Another hit band, the Happy Mondays, are signed, and the beginning of the ecstasy-fuelled rave culture is witnessed.

Despite all the success, Factory Records is losing vast amounts of money, both on The Haçienda and on recording its bands. In one scene, Erasmus points out (with a grin on his face, ironically) that the label is actually losing 5 pence for every copy of the 12-inch single for "Blue Monday" that is sold because the intricately designed packaging by Peter Saville costs more than what the records are being sold for. Saville is additionally portrayed for having a reputation for missing deadlines, turning in posters and tickets for club dates after the events have already occurred. Meanwhile, the Haçienda is failing because though it is packed every night, the libation of choice is ecstasy, not alcohol, meaning the club costs money to operate but generates no revenue. The drugs also attract violence, with shootings first occurring outside, then inside the club. Faced with financial ruin, The Factory partners try to save the label and club by selling the label to London Records, but when it is revealed that Factory does not hold valid contracts with any of its artists, the deal falls through.

Other troubles include the drug use by the Happy Mondays' Shaun Ryder (Danny Cunningham), who holds the master tapes for the band's troubled fourth studio album hostage until Wilson gives him some money (They manage to buy the tapes back with the amount of money Wilson has in his wallet during the meeting with Ryder, 50 quid). When the master tape is played, it turns out that Ryder, despite being hailed by Wilson as "the greatest poet since Yeats", was unable to write any lyrics (or, as implied in a cutaway segment called "The Life and Surprisingly Strange Adventures of Ryderson Crusoe, Ryder refused to write them; "Why the fuck should I?!", he explains), so all the tracks to the album, expensively recorded in Barbados, are instrumentals.

Hannett has also become unpredictable, attempting at one time to shoot Wilson with a pistol. He has a falling out with Factory Records over finances, and spirals into decline due to alcohol and drug abuse and weight gain, and dies aged 42. Meanwhile, various aspects of Wilson's life are glossed over, and Wilson takes a moment to acknowledge this, quickly skimming over his divorce from his first wife, Lindsay, his second marriage and children, and his relationship with beauty queen Yvette Livesey (Kate Magowan). His own drug problems and professional difficulties are also glossed over. "I'm a minor character in my own story," Wilson explains, saying that the stories about the music, as well as Manchester itself, are more important.

The movie ends with Factory records closing along with the Haçienda. While smoking marijuana on the roof of Haçienda after its closing night, Wilson sees God (who looks a lot like him) who tells him he was right about Shaun Ryder being the best poet since Yeats, and assures Wilson he has earned a place in history. He then tells him Vini Reilly is due for a revival, remarking "It's good music to chill out to."



24 Hour Party People
Soundtrack album by various artists
Released 9 April 2002 (2002-04-09)
Recorded 1976–2002
Genre Punk rock, post-punk, Madchester, electronica, house
Label FFRR
Producer Pete Tong
Alternative cover
US album cover

The soundtrack to 24 Hour Party People features songs by artists closely associated with Factory Records who were depicted in the film. These include Happy Mondays, Joy Division (later to become New Order) and The Durutti Column. Manchester band the Buzzcocks are featured, as are The Clash. The album begins with "Anarchy in the U.K." by the Sex Pistols, the band credited in the film with inspiring Factory Records co-founder Tony Wilson to devote himself to promoting music.

New tracks recorded for the album include Joy Division's "New Dawn Fades", from a concert performance by New Order with Moby and Billy Corgan.

Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
Allmusic 4/5 stars[4]
Metacritic (86/100)[5]
NME (8/10)[6]
Pitchfork Media (7/10)[7]
Rolling Stone 3.5/5 stars[8]

Track list[edit]

  1. "Anarchy in the U.K." (Sex Pistols) – 3:33
  2. "24 Hour Party People (Jon Carter Mix)" (Happy Mondays) – 4:30
  3. "Transmission" (Joy Division) – 3:36
  4. "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)?" (Buzzcocks) – 2:42
  5. "Janie Jones" (The Clash) – 2:06
  6. "New Dawn Fades" (Moby and Billy Corgan with New Order) – 4:52
  7. "Atmosphere" (Joy Division) – 4:09
  8. "Otis" (The Durutti Column) – 4:16
  9. "Voodoo Ray" (A Guy Called Gerald) – 2:43
  10. "Temptation" (New Order) – 5:44
  11. "Loose Fit" (Happy Mondays) – 4:17
  12. "Pacific State" (808 State) – 3:53
  13. "Blue Monday" (New Order) – 7:30
  14. "Move Your Body" (Marshall Jefferson) – 5:15
  15. "She's Lost Control" (Joy Division) – 4:44
  16. "Hallelujah (Club Mix)" (Happy Mondays) – 5:40
  17. "Here To Stay" (New Order) – 4:58
  18. "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (Joy Division) – 3:24

Other songs in film[edit]

Several songs appear in the film but are not on the soundtrack album, including:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "24 Hour Party People". IMDb. Retrieved 28 May 2012. 
  2. ^ "Festival de Cannes: 24 Hour Party People". festival-cannes.com. Retrieved 24 October 2009. 
  3. ^ Ward, David (29 August 2002). "Hacienda fans rave at plan for luxury flats". The Guardian (London). Retrieved 23 April 2010. 
  4. ^ 24 Hour Party People at AllMusic
  5. ^ "OST Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More at Metacritic". Metacritic.com. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  6. ^ "Latest Reviews from NME.com – Music Videos, CDs, Gig Reviews & More". NME.com. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  7. ^ "Pitchfork: Album Reviews: Various Artists: 24 Hour Party People". Pitchforkmedia.com. 19 August 2002. Retrieved 14 August 2011. 
  8. ^ [1][dead link]

External links[edit]