Film debut of Tom Everett Scott. Tom Hanks was initially opposed to hiring Scott because of Scott's strong resemblance to a younger Hanks. He was finally convinced by his wife, Rita Wilson, who thought Scott was cute.
Tom Hanks named the beach band (Capn' Geech and the Shrimp Shack Shooters) after two seafood restaurants near Beaufort, SC, where many scenes in Forrest Gump (1994) were filmed. Capt. Geech's was on Lady's Island but is now closed. The Shrimp Shack is still open for business on St. Helena Island.
Adam Schlesinger, the bassist of Fountains of Wayne, penned the title song in response to a contest being held by the studio. Their song won, being used in the movie. The movie was released shortly after their first album.
Parallels with The Beatles: (1) Original band name (The Oneders) is a play on words involving music nomenclature (the Beatles). (2) First hit ("Please Please Me" for The Beatles) was a sped-up version of a slow ballad. (3) In The Beatles' first appearance on Ed Sullivan's show, a shot of John Lennon was accompanied by the caption, "Sorry Girls, He's Married". In this film it's Mattingly who's shown with the caption, "Careful Girls, He's Engaged" during their national TV debut. (4) Both acts first reached fame after replacing their original drummer. (5). Each group loses its original bass player (The Beatles' original bassist Stu Sutcliffe died and The Wonders' bassist joined the Marines. (6). Last-minute, temporary replacement: The Wonders' bassist had to be replaced after he disappeared; during part of The Beatles' 1964 world tour, drummer Jimmy Nicol had to sit in for Ringo Starr, who was undergoing an emergency tonsillectomy. (7) In the extended cut it's shown that the group's manager, Mr. White, has a boyfriend. The Beatles' manager, Brian Epstein, was also gay. (8) When The Wonders are running to their cars in Wisconsin to catch a plane to "the coast," Fay (Liv Tyler) gets mistaken for a female fan, and it stopped by the police from following the band. A similar incident happened when The Beatles were traveling to see Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. While running to board a train, John Lennon's then wife, Cynthia Lennon, was stopped because she was mistaken for a female fan. Unlike the film's version, no one came back to retrieve Cynthia before the train left the station. (9) Before The Beatles struck fame in the UK, they were forced to change the drummer 'Pete Best' to Ringo Starr. Before getting their first fame (playing "That Thing You Do!" at the contest), the group was forced to replace the drummer Chad and Guy had to step in.
During the montage of clips while a song plays, we see the band cavorting on a large map of the United States. At one point, one of the characters falls off of his bicycle at approximately the location of Cleveland Ohio. This is because before becoming famous, Tom Hanks spent years there acting in local theater, and remains to this day a die-hard Cleveland Indians fan. The "stumble" therefore represents his time spent there on his way to national stardom.
When the Oneders are playing at Boss Vic Koss' show in Pittsburgh one of the other band names on the theater marquee is "Marilyn Lovell & The Geminis". This is a tribute to the wife of Apollo 13 astronaut Jim Lovell (played by Tom Hanks in Apollo 13 (1995)) and the NASA space program.
The state fair entertainment circuit of the mid-60s (upon which Hanks based the movie) actually existed until the mid-80s. Midwestern fair managers (and probably other geographic areas) would work together on routing and negotiate lowered performers' fees as a group.
The characters Jimmy Mattingly (played by Johnathon Schaech) and Lenny Haise (played by Steve Zahn) of The Wonders have the same last names of the two astronauts Ken Mattingly and Fred Haise in the movie Apollo 13 (1995), which Tom Hanks starred in.
The scene where The Wonders perform live on The Hollywood Television Showcase was filmed at the Bob Barker Studio (Studio 33) at CBS Television City in Hollywood, California where the long-running hit game show The Price Is Right (1956) is taped.
Homeland Security Director (and Erie native) Tom Ridge, then the governor of Pennsylvania, visited the set during production and presented Tom Hanks with a Zippo lighter that was engraved with the film's logo (Hanks collects Zippos, which are manufactured in Pennsylvania.)
While trying to decide on a name for the band, the names glimpsed in Jimmy's notebook are: The Dollars, The Lords of Erie, The Pistunes, The Thorns, The Mozarts, The Echoes, The Ticks, The Didoctics, and The Flannels.
The television commercial that is shown on the Hollywood Showcase before The Wonders appear is for the new Ford Mustang at the 1964 World's Fair. It was broadcast on all three major networks simultaneously on April 19, 1964.
Mr. White's (Tom Hanks) first name is 'Andy'. (revealed only once; when Play Tone President, Sol Siler, (Alex Rocco) is interrupted by Jimmy (Johnathon Schaech) while Sol stuffs himself with a deli sandwich and angrily retorts: "ANDY, What in the bloody hell is this? Auditions during my lunchtime?..."; at that point, Mr White pulls Jimmy away.) (Andy is also the name of the boy in 'Toy Story' whose favorite toy is "Woody", voiced by Tom Hanks.)
Guy's sister Darlene gets only one line in the movie: After the father announces that Guy left them "in a lurch" she asks: "Does that mean that you will start paying me?" However, in the extended cut of the movie Darlene does in fact have more lines.
At one point in the movie, the plot mirrors that of Bryan Adams' song "Summer of 69." In the song, he says "Me and some guys from school, we had a band and we tried real hard. Jimmy quit, Jody got married, should've known we never get far." In the movie, somebody says "Jimmy quit" and then there is a shot of Lenny getting married in Vegas.
The story of the Wonders continued in the liner notes of the film's soundtrack album. It was revealed that following the group's appearance on the "Hollywood Television Showcase", "That Thing You Do!" rose to #2 in "Billboard". Jimmy's career with the Heardsmen was also detailed a little further, indicating that they recorded "I Need You (That Thing You Do)" and "She Knows It", the songs heard over the movie's end credits. The liner notes are attributed to A.M. White (as in Mr. White), who supposedly later became president of the Playtone label.
Jennifer York, the bass player for the female group in the Mercyhurst Talent Show scene, was bass player for the Contemporary Christian Music "girl band" Rachel Rachel, who recorded two albums for Word.
During The Hollyood Television Showcase, Bryan Cranston plays NASA astronaut Gus Grissom. He would later play astronaut Buzz Aldrin in HBO's From the Earth to the Moon (1998), executive produced by Tom Hanks.
During the scene where the members of the Oneders hear their song on the radio for the first time inside the Patterson's Appliances, the same couple walks in front of the store at the beginning of the scene and then again at the end of the scene.
In the extended cut of the film, when Phil Horace goes to Patterson's to tell Guy about the showcase, the song that can be heard playing in the background is the same song that the trio is playing at The Blue Spot, later on.
Contemporary Christian singer and songwriter, Rick Elias as the guitarist seated behind Jimmy during Diane Dane's rehearsal. Elias is also co writer on four songs from the film, "I Need You (That Thing You Do)", "She Knows It", "All My Only Dreams", and "Dance With Me Tonight".