Is That Thing You Do Based on a True Story? Did “That Thing You Do!” Draw Inspiration From Real 1960s Bands?

“That Thing You Do!” is a beloved film that grabbed the attention of the masses because of its rise of a fictional 1960s band’s unique narrative, The Wonders. What is your opinion about the band, The Wonder? Is the band itself real? Does the movie draw inspiration from true events? If you are also curious to know the answers to your queries then, this article delves into the real-life influences behind the film.


Directed by Tom Hanks
Written by Tom Hanks
Produced by
  • Gary Goetzman
  • Jonathan Demme
  • Edward Saxon
  • Tom Everett Scott
  • Liv Tyler
  • Johnathon Schaech
  • Steve Zahn
  • Ethan Embry
  • Tom Hanks
Cinematography Tak Fujimoto
Edited by Richard Chew
Music by Howard Shore


  • Clinica Estetico
  • Clavius Base
Distributed by 20th Century Fox

Release date

Running time

  • 108 minutes
  • 148 minutes (extended cut)
Country United States
Language English
Budget $26 million
Box office $34.6 million

What is “That Thing You Do” All About?

That Thing You Do! is a captivating 1996 American musical comedy-drama film. It is written and directed by Tom Hanks, in his feature writing and directorial debut. This film is set in 1960s rock and roll culture. The enthralling narrative of the film revolves around the rise and fall of a fictional one-hit wonder pop band.

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stars Tom Everett Scott, Liv Tyler, Johnathon Schaech, Steve Zahn, Ethan Embry, and Hanks are the cast members of the film. Everyone appreciates the production and music. The soundtrack of the film stands at #21 on the Billboard 200 albums chart. It received favorable ratings and reviews from critics worldwide on platforms including 7.1 out of 10 on IMDB, 93% on Rotten Tomatoes, and 3 out of 5 on Common Sense Media.

Is That Thing You Do Based on a True Story?

“That Thing You Do” is all about the rise and fall of a fictional 1960s pop band, The Wonders. It captured the attention of the audience and kept them captivated all the time as it highlights the essence of the music industry of the era. However, the production of this film is not easy for the cast members. Check out, the true story behind the plot of “A Simple Favor.”

Many high-profile celebrities have to practice for weeks to perform properly on camera. The film represents the unique blend of plot between reality and fiction. The film is marketed as being based on the true story of the band but there is no evidence found yet that can prove that Tom Hanks bought the story rights from any existing band.

It can not be said that it is based on real events until there is any proof comes forward. It is the recommended movie for those who are seeking a career in the music industry because it highlights the struggles and triumphs of young bands who are seeking fame. If you have a burning passion for music then what are you waiting for? Sit on your comfortable couch take your favorite snack and enjoy the the excitement and challenges of the music scene of “That Thing You Do.”

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Is the Story of the Wonders in the “That Thing You Do” a Film Based on a Real Band?

The Erie Reader suggests that The Wonders’ story closely mirrors that of The Fabulous Epics, an actual band hailing from Erie, Pennsylvania. The Fabulous Epics kickstarted their journey in Erie. They were securing a recurring gig at the local branch of the Sons of Italy club, while The Wonders landed their first steady gig as the house band at an Italian eatery named Villapiano’s.

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Although The Fabulous Epics didn’t achieve a breakout hit or secure a major label deal like Playtone Records depicted in the film, they later became the resident band at New York’s Peppermint Lounge. It was at this venue where they crossed paths with The Beatles shortly after their landmark performance on “The Ed Sullivan Show.”

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Who Are the Cast and Characters of “Things That You Do”?

  • Tom Everett Scott as Guy “Skitch” (later “Shades”) Patterson
  • Liv Tyler as Faye Dolan
  • Johnathon Schaech as James “Jimmy” Mattingly II
  • Steve Zahn as Leonard “Lenny” Haise
  • Ethan Embry as T.B. Player
  • Tom Hanks as Mr. Amos White
  • Charlize Theron as Tina Powers
  • Obba Babatundé as Lamarr
  • Giovanni Ribisi as Chad
  • Chris Ellis as Phil Horace
  • Alex Rocco as Sol Siler
  • Bill Cobbs as Del Paxton

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  • Peter Scolari, Troy Chesterfield
  • Rita Wilson, Marguerite
  • Chris Isaak as Guy’s Uncle Bob
  • Kevin Pollak as Victor “Boss Vic Koss” Kosslovich
  • Robert Torti as Freddy Fredrickson
  • Chaille Percival as Diane Dane
  • Holmes Osborne as Mr. Patterson
  • Sean Whalen as a heckler
  • Clint Howard as a KJZZ disc jockey
  • Kathleen Kinmont as Koss’ secretary
  • Jonathan Demme as the director of Weekend at Party Pier
  • Tracy Reiner as Anita, the co-star of Weekend at Party Pier
  • Barry Sobel as “Goofball” in Weekend at Party Pier
  • Paul Feig as a KMPC disc jockey
  • Gedde Watanabe as a Play-Tone photographer
  • Robert Ridgely as the Hollywood Showcase announcer

Is “The Perfect Storm” a true story? What inspired the creation of “the Perfect Storm”?

  • Marc McClure as the Hollywood Showcase director
  • Bryan Cranston as Virgil “Gus” Grissom
  • Colin Hanks as a page at the City of Broadcasting
  • Larry Antonino as Scott “Wolfman” Pell
  • Kennya J. Ramsey, Julie L. Harkness
  • Howie Long as Mr. White’s driver/partner Lloyd in the extended cut


“That Thing You Do” is not t based on a specific true story. Therefore, no evidence can state whether the band, “The Wonder” in the film is real or not. The movie is largely based on the fictional content.

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