This is the highly charged and moving story of the spectacular rise and fall of Manchester’s Factory Records, stable for Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays and the infamous Hacienda nightclub.


June 4, 1976, Lesser Free Trade Hall, Manchester:  Cambridge-educated Tony Wilson (Steve Coogan), currently working as a television host, is at a Sex Pistols gig.  With him is his wife, Lindsey (Shirley Henderson).  Also in the crowd tonight are The Buzzcocks, a young Mick Hucknall (later the singer of Simply Red), and the band members of The Stiff Kittens, soon to become Joy Division.  “There are just forty two people in the audience, but every one of them is feeding on the power and strength and magic,” says an inspired Wilson, who watches in awe as the Pistols exude their raw energy to a wired crowd.  Motivated by this pivotal moment in music history, he heads to the home of his friend Alan Erasmus (Lennie James).  Together the pair concoct a plan that, over the next two decades, will change the face of popular music as we know it – and put the city of Manchester firmly on the pop-culture map.

Wilson and Erasmus start with their own club night at Manchester’s Russell Club, where they provide a live platform for their favorite local bands.  Here they cross paths with band manager Rob Gretton (Paddy Considine), who, with a mutual interest in semiotics, strikes a chord with Wilson.  Together the three men set up Factory Records.  With a contract written in his own blood, Wilson signs Gretton’s band Joy Division, James, Durritti Column, and A Certain Ratio, all of whom will go on to become influential artists of the 1980s.

Fronted by Ian Curtis (Sean Harris), Joy Division breaks musical boundaries with its debut album, Unknown Pleasures, and the singles “Atmosphere,” “Transmission,” and “Love Will Tear Us Apart.”  Following Curtis’ suicide in 1980, the band goes on to become New Order with Bernard Sumner (John Simm) taking the lead alongside bassist Peter Hook (Ralf Little).  In 1983, New Order releases “Blue Monday.”  Packaged in the most expensive wrapper ever put on a record (designed by Peter Saville), Erasmus tells Wilson that with every copy of the record sold, Factory will lose 5 pence.  Wilson replies, “Exactly.  And how many are we going to sell?  Fuck all, that’s fuck all times 5 pence, a small price to pay.”  “Blue Monday” goes on to become the biggest selling 12” single of all time, an incident that encapsulates the very essence of Factory Records. 

Not content with just their own club night, Wilson and his entourage take a step up, purchasing premises in central Manchester where they build their own club.  The Hacienda opens for business on May 21, 1982.  It goes on to become one of the most famous dance clubs in the world, as much a mecca for clubbers as NYC’s Studio 54, and a venue at which they applaud the DJ – not the creator, not the music, but the medium.  As Wilson says, “This is the moment when even the white man starts dancing.”  At a Hacienda Battle of the Bands night, Wilson is impressed by a loose, shambolic set by an unknown band called the Happy Mondays, fronted by Shaun Ryder (Danny Cunningham).  Factory signs them, and the Happy Mondays go into the recording studio with prolific yet erratic Joy Division producer Martin Hannett (Andy Serkis) at the controls.  The band sets new highs (or lows, depending on how you look at it) in the rock ‘n’ roll lifestyle.  Bringing an innovative style of dance music to the forefront, their albums “Hallelujah” and “Pills ‘n’ Thrills and Bellyaches” take the music into the charts.

However, the party doesn’t last.  A tale of music, sex, drugs and larger-than-life characters, 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE chronicles one man’s vision to allow freedom for his artists – which, in turn, becomes his ultimate downfall.  Graphically depicting the music and dance heritage of Manchester from the late ’70s to the early ’90s, 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE documents the vibrancy that made Manchester “Mad-chester,” the place in the world that you would most like to be.

United Artists presents, in association with The Film Consortium, the Film Council, and Film Four, a Revolution Films production in association with Baby Cow Films – 24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE.  Directed by Michael Winterbottom and produced by Andrew Eaton from a screenplay by Frank Cottrell Boyce, the film stars Steve Coogan.  The talented cast also includes Keith Allen, Rob Brydon, Enzo Cilenti, Ron Cook, Chris Coghill, Paddy Considine, Danny Cunningham, Dave Gorman, Sean Harris, Shirley Henderson, Lennie Jamies, Peter Kay, Ralf Little, Kate McGowan, Paul Popplewell, Rowetta, Paul Ryder, Andy Serkis, John Simm, John Thomson, and Raymond Waring.  24 HOUR PARTY PEOPLE’s production team includes production designer Mark Tildesley, editor Trevor Waite, director of photography Robby Müller, co-producer Gina Carter, line producer Robert How, executive producer Henry Normal, and costume designers Natalie Ward and Stephen Noble.