Expectations are running high as the popular X-Files crosses over from TV to the big screen
HOLLYWOOD — It’s undeniable. The X-Factor truth will be out there in a few weeks. Believe no one until then.
Days from now we will discover whether TV’s X-Files will become a movie hit.
Opening Friday, Chris Carter’s film creation is a $60-million exercise in Star Trek-like cross-pollination, although unlike Star Trek and The Next Generation, the series is still airing.
So like what’s going on?
This is clear. The X-Files: Fight The Future tries to exploit what makes the series popular.
That would be the unspoken bond between David Duchovny’s Fox Mulder and Gillian Anderson’s Dana Scully, the FBI agents featured weekly on their missions implausible.
Fine. So what’s going on? Like do they?
Do they track down otherwordly warriors? Yes, they do.
Also on hand during their big screen journey are these familiar small screen faces: William B. Davis’ The Cigarette-Smoking Man, John Neville’s The Well-Manicured Man and the conspiracy trio, The Lone Gunmen (Dean Haglund, Tom Braidwood and Bruce Harwood).
New to the scene are Martin Landau’s doctor in a dilemma, Armin Mueller-Stahl’s earthly conspirator and Blythe Danner’s assistant FBI director.
So what’s the movie story? Mulder and Scully uncover what they sort of expose but never prove — aliens are everywhere.
Indeed, they do what they have been doing since Chris Carter created the TV program five years ago.
Carter, who likes to boast that “I’m a worrier, so the next logical step is paranoia,” has transferred his anxiety well.
So, for the last five years, Mulder and Scully have been investigating unsolved FBI cases involving the paranormal, supernatural and unexplained.
Did we mention that Mulder, as a boy, watched his sister’s abduction by aliens? His father might be dead due to suspicious circumstances.
Scully, a doctor, is the skeptic sidekick living with an inexplicable cancerous tumor in her head.
Quite a couple. And, as spook-busters, they usually get thwarted by faceless government lackeys or clandestine henchmen from a dubious international combine covering up what potential truth there is out there concerning alien invasions.
It’s like a post-Watergate, pro-UFO, neurotically New Age soap opera all wrapped up in an unrequited love theme.
No wonder Mulder and Scully stick together.
And no wonder creator Carter — he calls himself a UFO skeptic — decided to make the dangerous move of releasing a movie between seasons five and six.
The fifth season was its most popular. Season six is expected to be even bigger — and that’s internationally, too.
He’s even poised to sign up for the X-Files film number two.
That doesn’t make Carter’s gamble psychologically easier for number one.
“More money involved makes it much more complicated, admits Carter at the Four Seasons Hotel doing press with Duchovny, Anderson and X-Files director Rob Bowman. “It was stressful, but the risk was worth taking.”
Anderson’s blunt about what that risk is. “It is a challenge to get, not just the pre-existing audience, but also the people who have never seen the series, to check us out.”
One way to get those other people, the non-Fileheads, is showcase some special-event film techniques.
So do they? “I just didn’t want to do creepy sci-fi violence,” Carter reports.
No, like, do they?
You mean smile. Mulder doesn’t smile in the series and he doesn’t in the film on purpose. “He can’t smile,” says Duchovny, grinning. “He’s a questing hero.”
No, not smile. Y’know, like do they?
Bust the aliens in the movie? Carter’s not going to say on the record. Not now, days before the X-Files film gets a look-over by consumers.
Carter’s already spent two years living like a secret agent, swearing assistants to complete secrecy, printing the script on non-faxable paper. He even let some dummy scenes get out there, to find out whether he had leaks. He’s proud to say that he misled the X-Philers who needed to know the movie truth out there.
Those fans are as obsessed as Mulder, after all.
Carter confirms that they are, indeed.
So do they? Like do the fans know?
Carter says that he does not believe the complete film storyline has been pieced together.
He does believe he will find out soon enough whether The X-Files translates onto the big screen. It’s the $60-million question.
But director Bowman, who did 25 episodes on TV, insists the essence of the series is maintained.
“The storytelling on The X-Files is obtuse and that is on purpose,” he says. “It’s very tantalizing, just like the investigating they do in the film. You get fragments and you have to connect the dots.”
Still, the movie has special effects, more locations and bigger moments. “More detail,” Bowman agrees, “and more intricacies.”
But do they? Y’know, like do Mulder and Scully kiss?
“I think it would ruin the show,” Carter says, then adds, “I think it would wreck the X-Files if they had a relationship.”
Anderson chuckles: “What? Before we spot an alien, what are we going to do? Smooch?”
Reports Duchovny: “There is way too much history to be developed for them to have a carnal meeting.”
Besides, says Duchovny, smirking, “America wouldn’t stand for it.”