'Files': reunion and re-examination

July 25, 2008|By Alex Plimack | Alex Plimack,Sun reporter

In the six years since The X-Files last graced the small screen, those involved went their separate ways, exploring other opportunities much different from the science-fiction show that ran for nine years on Fox.

Creator Chris Carter made a movie, Fencewalker, on his own that may not see release. David Duchovny, who played believer Fox Mulder, went on to star in the Showtime series Californication. Gillian Anderson (skeptic Dana Scully) moved to Britain, where she starred in two plays in London.

But with The X-Files: I Want to Believe hitting theaters today, it's not only a reunion for Carter and the stars, but the return of the show to the big screen after a decade-long absence. For Carter, reuniting with everyone after the time off was "fantastic."

"It was very emotional," he said. "It was an emotional thing to sit down and read the script at my dining room table. [It was] not unlike a family reunion."

It had been a long time coming to round up the gang. According to Carter, Fox had approached him in the year after the series finale, asking if he was interested in filming a second movie. With a script written by him and series executive producer Frank Spotnitz (who also produced the new movie), negotiations began with Carter, Spotnitz and the actors.

But then things went sour, and the movie was put on hold.

"There was a contractual dispute about the TV series between my representatives and [Fox's], and it brought everything to a grinding halt for several years," Carter said after a ceremony at the Smithsonian National Museum of American History last week, where he donated objects from the show to the museum's collection. "It was a question of whether the movie would ever get made or not, and I believed it wouldn't get made. I was resigned to the fact that that dispute was going to spoil the opportunity."

The dispute, which eventually became a lawsuit, was resolved ("amicably," Carter pointed out), and as Carter was hanging up the phone from learning the good news, Fox was calling on another line. With the writers' strike looming, it was a case of now or never to get a second X-Files movie made, lest people became too distanced and detached from the characters. Carter was happy to oblige.

When Carter speaks, he does so methodically. He often pauses in the middle of a sentence, pondering in the lull of his baritone voice what is to be the conclusion to the thought. The same can be said for Carter during the time off between the end of the series and the new movie.

"That period during," he starts before pausing and then continuing diplomatically, "the trouble actually gave me a chance to step back from The X-Files and look at it and give [the] characters some breathing room, some maturity and some space, and some interest that may not have been there otherwise."

The time off also gave Carter and Spotnitz time to reassess The X-Files' place in American culture. According to Spotnitz, the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks significantly affected the show that was infamous for dealing with government conspiracies. The ninth season premiered that fall with a portion of the audience conspicuously absent, and Carter decided soon after to make it the show's last.

Spotnitz says he hopes the new movie is relevant to the country today.

"In writing this movie, I don't think we consciously thought about the politics of the time we're in, but I do think it filtered into the storytelling," he said. "It's a personal story, and the more I look back on the movie we've made, the more I do think it resonates with the times we're living in."

With this film, Carter hopes to bring back old fans of the show and the first cinematic incarnation while also reaching a new audience who may have been too young for the show when it was at its creative and commercial peak in the late '90s. And Carter hopes that if the movie does well enough, there will be a third and final one.

But before that happens, The X-Files: I Want to Believe must contend with its own monster of the week: the summer movie season.

"Like all summer movies, it'll be in, and then there will be the next blockbuster," Carter said.


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