Max Headroom: 20 Minutes into the Future
was a 1985 cyberpunk television movie
created by Chrysalis
Visual Programming Ltd. for Channel 4
to provide a back story for Max Headroom
, an animated television reporter. An American
-made television pilot for the Max Headroom
series was later developed based on this plot.
The film introduces Edison Carter
), a television reporter trying to expose corruption and greed. In the movie, reporter Carter discovers that his employer, Network 23
, has created a new form of subliminal advertising
(termed "blip-verts") that can be fatal to certain viewers. While attempting to flee the network headquarters with proof, Edison suffers a serious head injury, caused by banging into a low-clearance sign labeled "Max. Headroom". Believing him killed, the network's chief executive orders Bryce Lynch
, an adolescent genius working as a scientist for Network 23, to digitally record Carter's mind. The recording will then be used to create a computer-based replacement for Carter in order to hide his death. The resulting program achieves a life of its own as the eccentric, unpredictable entity (adopting the name "Max Headroom", from the last object Carter saw before being knocked out). Meanwhile, a merely unconscious Carter escapes from a body bank and, with the help of colleague Theora Jones
), eventually defeats Network 23.
After this film was made, an American television series was developed, titled Max Headroom. It lasted fourteen episodes during the 1987 - 1988 television season. It was broadcast on ABC. For at least the first episode, some footage from the original Channel 4 movie was used, while others were reshot with American actors. Jeffrey Tambor was cast as Edison's boss Murray, in the American version. Pablo Cruise guitarist Cory Lerios provided the theme.
The entire series was released on VHS and LaserDisc in Japan by RCA/Columbia Home Video Japan (now Sony Pictures Home Entertainment) shortly after ABC cancelled the show. It is unknown if Sony Pictures Home Entertainment plans on releasing the show on DVD in the United States, but it is highly unlikely, given its failure.
Max Headroom was adapted and used in 1986 by the American cable channel Cinemax for their own Max Headroom Show called The Original Max Talking Headroom Show.