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Manchester on film: six movie locations in the city

Rebecca Sharp
Written by
Rebecca Sharp

In the recent years with the arrival of MediaCityUK, Manchester and its surrounding areas have been gracing TV and cinema screens all year round. This isn't surprising with the sheer amount of location choices from different eras that could so easily lend themselves to different stories and time zones, but what is surprising is that only a handful of films have made Manchester their primary filming location. However, there is an eclectic bunch out there that have set their movies in the city or have chosen Manchester as a stand in for other locations. Here's six of the best.

Dale Street, Northern Quarter

Film: 'Captain America: The First Avenger' (2011)

Scene: 39 minutes in, just after Captain America's transformation

Most people in Manchester  will already have heard about this one, but it's still pretty unbelievable. Dale Street, out of any other street in the world, was chosen as one that looked most like 1940s New York. Just hide the street signs, put up some fake fire escapes and you are instantly transported.

Palace Hotel, Oxford Street

Film: 'Hell is a City' (1960)

Scene: The pivotal scene right at the very end of the film

Dubbed a 'Manc Noir' by critics, this black and white film has almost a cult following amongst cinephiles in Manchester. Its film locations take us all over the city and the outskirts to places that don't even exist any more, but the film's climatic scene was filmed on the roof of the Palace Hotel giving us an insight into what Manchester looked like in the 1950s and 1960s. 

Hell is a City roof scene

Afflecks, Church Street

Film: 'Spike Island' (2012)

Scene: About 30 minutes in, when the lads are following the girls around the store picking out gig outfits

Seminal Manchester band The Stone Roses' legendary performance in 1990 is the basis of this 2012 film. It's fitting that a scene should take place in alternative and vintage clothing store Afflecks considering much of its stock is probably from the correct era. Afflecks is a treasure trove of interesting clothing and jewellery and compliments the film's indie vibe perfectly.

Soap Street and High Street, Northern Quarter

Film: 'Alfie' (2004)

Scene: About 26 minutes in, when Alfie rides up the street on a moped

The team behind 'Captain America' weren't the first to spot the Northern Quarter's Manhattan lookalike exterior. This is a 'blink and you'll miss it' location that the film-makers behind the remake of Alfie clearly thought had so much potential that they built an entire cafe on top of a car park to achieve the final outcome. And, of course, added some fire escapes for real NYC authenticity.  

On the set of New York

Castle Street, Castlefield

Film: '24 Hour Party People' (2002)

Scene: About 65 minutes in when Tony Wilson is reporting on the Rochdale canal network

Is there a film more synonymous with Manchester? Filming in locations all over the city, the canals around Castle Street provide a more peaceful and picturesque side to the city than the nightclubs and raves of the Madchester music scene documented in Steve Coogan's film. Many of the locations no longer exist despite the film only being 13 years old, but you can guarantee the canals will be with us for a while longer.

Town Hall, Albert Square

Film: 'Victor Frankenstein' (2015)

Scene: We'll have to wait and see!

Most recently, the Town Hall has leant itself to Victorian England for a film that comes out later this year, but this isn't the first time. The Town Hall's Victorian aesthetic and striking similarity to the House of Commons means it has featured in big budget movies such as 'Sherlock Holmes' (2009) and 'The Iron Lady' (2011).

See more film in Manchester from Time Out.

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