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. The film was entered into the 2002 Cannes Film Festival. It received positive reviews.
It begins with the punk rock era of the late 1970s 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 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.
In 1976 television presenter Tony Wilson sees the Sex Pistols perform at the Manchester Lesser Free Trade Hall for the first time. Inspired, Wilson starts a weekly series of punk rock shows at a Manchester club, where the newly formed Joy Division perform, led by the erratic, brooding Ian Curtis.
Wilson founds a record label, Factory Records, and signs Joy Division as the first band; the contract is written in Wilson's blood and gives the Factory artists full control over their music. He hires irascible producer Martin Hannett to record Joy Division, and soon the band and label have a hit record. In 1980, just before Joy Division is to tour the United States, Curtis hangs himself. Joy Division rename themselves New Order and record a hit single, "Blue Monday".
Wilson opens a nightclub, The Haçienda; business is slow at first, but eventually the club is packed each night. Wilson signs another hit band, Happy Mondays, led by Shaun Ryder, and the ecstasy-fuelled rave culture is born.
Despite the apparent success, Factory Records is losing money. Every copy of "Blue Monday" sold loses five pence, as the intricately designed packaging by Peter Saville costs more than the single's sale price. Wilson pays for New Order to record a new album in Ibiza, but after two years, they still have not delivered a record. He pays for the Happy Mondays to record their fourth studio album in Barbados, but Ryder spends all the recording money on drugs. When Wilson finally receives the finished album, he finds that Ryder has refused to record vocals, and all the tracks are instrumentals. At the Haçienda, ecstasy use is curbing alcohol sales and attracting gang violence.
The Factory partners try to save the business by selling the label to London Records but when Wilson reveals that the label does not hold binding contracts with any of its artists, the deal falls through. While smoking marijuana on the roof of Haçienda after its closing night, Wilson has a vision of God who assures Wilson he has earned a place in history.
The film holds a Metacritic score of 85/100. Roger Ebert gave it four out of four stars.
The film was nominated for the Palme d'Or at the 2002 Cannes Film Festival.
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.
- "Anarchy in the U.K." (Sex Pistols) – 3:33
- "24 Hour Party People (Jon Carter Mix)" (Happy Mondays) – 4:30
- "Transmission" (Joy Division) – 3:36
- "Ever Fallen in Love (With Someone You Shouldn't've)?" (Buzzcocks) – 2:42
- "Janie Jones" (The Clash) – 2:06
- "New Dawn Fades" (Moby and Billy Corgan with New Order) – 4:52
- "Atmosphere" (Joy Division) – 4:09
- "Otis" (The Durutti Column) – 4:16
- "Voodoo Ray" (A Guy Called Gerald) – 2:43
- "Temptation" (New Order) – 5:44
- "Loose Fit" (Happy Mondays) – 4:17
- "Pacific State" (808 State) – 3:53
- "Blue Monday" (New Order) – 7:30
- "Move Your Body" (Marshall Jefferson) – 5:15
- "She's Lost Control" (Joy Division) – 4:44
- "Hallelujah (Club Mix)" (Happy Mondays) – 5:40
- "Here To Stay" (New Order) – 4:58
- "Love Will Tear Us Apart" (Joy Division) – 3:24
Several songs appear in the film but are not on the soundtrack album, including:"No Fun", performed by the Sex Pistols (archival video footage)
"Money's Too Tight to Mention", performed by Simply Red (archival video footage)
"Make Up to Break Up", performed by Siouxsie and the Banshees (archival video footage)
"The Passenger", performed by Iggy Pop (archival video footage)
"In The City", performed by The Jam (archival video footage)
"No More Heroes", performed by The Stranglers (archival video footage)
"Wimoweh", performed by Karl Denver (archival video footage)
"Lazyitis", performed by Happy Mondays (archival video footage)
"Whoopin' the Blues", performed by Sonny Terry (from the film Stroszek, during Ian Curtis suicide scene)
"World in Motion", performed by New Order
"Jacqueline", performed by The Durutti Column
"Digital", performed by Joy Division
"Flight", performed by A Certain Ratio
"Skipscada", performed by A Certain Ratio
"Tart Tart", performed by Happy Mondays
"Wrote for Luck", performed by Happy Mondays
"Kinky Afro", performed by Happy Mondays
"Sunshine and Love", performed by Happy Mondays
"Satan", performed by Orbital
"Go", performed by Moby
"Louie Louie", performed by Factory All-Stars
"King of the Beats", performed by Mantronix
"Solid Air", performed by John Martyn