The X-Files: I Want to Believe

Release Date: July 25, 2008

Movie of the Day for Friday, June 6, 2008
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Position Staff In Brief
14/21 Jason Lee A fantastic, nostalgic trip with a more thoughtful and pensive Mulder and Scully.
38/98 David Mumpower The movie is not as terrible as some would have you believe; it's just not special. What proves to be a modern update on a classic horror tale isn't engaging enough to justify movie sequel status.
39/43 Kim Hollis I wanted to believe that they could have come up with something better than this.
42/52 Sean Collier If it were an episode, you would've changed the channel at about 9:18.
155/196 Max Braden Drags just like the series did, and Gillian has more angst than a coven of high school vampire groupies.

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Fifteen years ago, The X-Files debuted on Fox, and I could not get anybody to watch it with me. I kept telling family members and friends that it was a novel science fiction/mystery show, but no one listened for a couple of years. I never quite grasped what changed, but everything changed almost overnight around season three or four. Suddenly, almost everyone I knew was watching the show, hooked by its gripping modular episode puzzles combined with its sweeping overall story arc. The mystery of the aliens, the black oil, and the inoculation shots had the entire country swept up for a time. In 1998, an attempt was made to capitalize on the show’s newfound popularity as The X-Files the movie was released that summer.

An argument could be made that the entirety of the show’s popularity evaporated that weekend. The movie opened to $30.1 million on its way to a domestic total of $83.9 million. It earned a total of $186.9 million worldwide against a $66 million budget, but its box office behavior was alarming. The film debuted to $12.6 million on its first Friday, indicating that over 40% of the people who saw it on opening weekend went the first day. In 2008, such behavior is alarming. Ten years ago, it was almost historically unprecedented. Films were almost never this frontloaded back then and after one weekend, box office analysts knew what the rest of the world would figure out soon enough. The X-Files fad was dying.

The show would not be canceled for another four seasons, but it was on Fox, the network that never cancels any established property. The show ran out of juice so quickly that one of its stars, David Duchovny, stopped appearing the final two seasons, and the other, Gillian Anderson, wasn’t around much the final year. Instead, they were replaced by all-new, wholly irrelevant characters. Fox was that desperate to keep the show going in the face of overwhelming evidence that no one cared any more. On May 19, 2002, The X-Files ended its network run not with a bang but a whimper.

Over the past several years, series creator Chris Carter has stated the intent to make a movie sequel. Given the icy reception to the first film and the way the show ended, this seemed implausible. When an announcement was made in 2007 that Duchovny and Anderson had signed on for a sequel and production would begin soon, eyebrows were raised. In hindsight, this was a bit sloppy on the part of industry analysts. Carter created a television institution and he has worked on nothing else for the past several years. This has given him the time as well as the inclination to determine what was good about the show as well as the reasons it went wrong, and he has created a shooting script that addresses all of these matters.

The X-Files: I Want to Believe will not be a true sequel in the sense that it will not be tied into the previous film. It will not extend the legendary show mythology, either. All of those story arcs were tied up as much as they ever will be in the confusing series finale. So, if you want to know more about super-soldiers, pick up the box set of the last season. It’s not a factor here. Instead, I Want to Believe is a standalone episode that focuses upon what the show did best. Mulder and Scully will be informed of a mystery and they will go investigate its details. Diehard fans of the show back when it was great (such as myself) are borderline orgasmic over this news. Mulder wants to believe in aliens and the paranormal. Those of us who suffered through the John Doggett/Monica Reyes era simply want to be reminded of how great Mulder and Scully are when they interact. We want to believe Chris Carter will deliver us just this sort of movie, independent of what happened with the last one. (David Mumpower/BOP)

Vital statistics for The X-Files: I Want to Believe
Main Cast David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson
Supporting Cast Amanda Peet, Billy Connolly, Xzibit, Callum Keith Rennie, Adam Godley
Director Chris Carter
Screenwriter Chris Carter, Frank Spotnitz
Distributor 20th Century Fox
Official Site
Screen Count 3,185
Talent in red has entry in The Big Picture



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