Lights, camera, action! MM’s top five… Movies filmed in Manchester

By John McDougall

London may be a common destination for filmmakers to go, but Manchester has been the set for many a memorable moment on the silver screen. 

Here MM takes a look at the top five movies to grace the big screens that were shot on location in Manchester.

5. The Iron Lady (2011)

Meryl Streep stars as Marmite figure and Britain’s first female Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher who lead the country between 1979 and 1990.

Manchester Town Hall transformed into the Houses of Parliament for two days due to its uncanny resemblance.

Filming took place on the same day that one Northenden couple got married.

Three-time Oscar winner Streep sent the lucky pair two signed pictures sending messages of congratulations. 

4. 24 Hour Party People (2002)

Given this film chronicles the Madchester scene of the eighties, how could Michael Winterbottom’s film not make it into the top five?

Middleton-born Steve Coogan stars as Tony Wilson, a Granada TV reporter and head of independent Manchester label Factory Records.

Filmed extensively throughout Manchester, including Longsight, Ancoats and Castlefield, the film also covers the fortunes of several Manchester bands including Joy Division, New Order and Happy Mondays.  

3. East is East (1999)

Set in a 1970s Salford household, this comedy centres on an Anglo-Pakistani family and highlights evolving British culture.

This comedy classic was filmed in parts of Openshaw and, perhaps more famously, the area by Salford Lad’s Club, made famous on the sleeve of The Smiths 1986 album The Queen is Dead.

It grossed more than £10million at the box office and a sequel, West is West, was released in 2010 and rightly gets into the top three.    

2. Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

Parts of all-out action film Captain America were shot in the Northern Quarter, where Dale Street was transformed into 1940’s Brooklyn.

The location’s pre-war architecture proved to be something special to the location manager as it managed to tempt Marvel Production to shoot outside of the USA for the first time in its history.

With a cast including Tommy Lee Jones, Hugo Weaving and Samuel L Jackson, it made more than $350million at the box office, making it one of the highest-grossing films shot in Manchester.

1. Looking For Eric (2009)

The top spot is reserved for the footballing demi-god revered by the red half of Manchester.

Manchester United legend Eric Cantona and Steve Evets star in Ken Loach’s work about a postman who seeks guidance from his hero as he attempts to win back his ex-wife.

The film was shot entirely on location in Greater Manchester with its UK premiere even taking place in the city.

On returning to Manchester, Cantona told the BBC: “I love the people there. That never fades, or not from my side, no.

“It seems to be always the same.”

As he says in the film: “I am not a man. I am Cantona.”

You’re not wrong Eric.  

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Image courtesy of Icon Film Distribution via YouTube, with thanks.

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