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For ‘X-Files,’ the truth is still out there … but what about a third film?

Liver-eating contortionist Eugene Tooms  wasn’t there.  Neither were the Peacock Brothers. Extraterrestrials? Nope, not a one. But even without those memorable characters of any of the other paranormal beasties, shadow-government operatives or little green men from “The X-Files,” fans of the spooky franchise turned out in force last week at The Grove in Los Angeles to question and cheer X-creator Chris Carter and key writer Frank Spotnitz.

The two longtime collaborators (or is that conspirators?) were joined by Matt Hurwitz, a co-author of the lavish new book “The Complete X-Files: Behind the Series, Myths and the Movies” (Insight Editions, $49.95). The event was on the third floor of Barnes & Noble and a crowd that went into triple-digits was eager to get autographs and answers, many of which were delivered by Carter with his wry, mellow-surfer baritone.  

Is Walter Skinner still infected with nanotechnology? “He’s been to the doctors a number of times.”

Is the Agent Dana Scully immortal? “It’s kind of true, if you think about it. I mean, she’ll never die. She beat cancer.”

Any plans to take “Millennium” to the big screen? “That seems to be the question all the fans want answered. Nothing has been discussed.”

Carter’s favorite episode? “Beyond the Sea” and “Home” make the short list, but, he insists, he has a lot of favorites.

When is the series going to be available on Blu-ray? “There’s a technical problem … we just have to figure out how to solve it.”

But the pervading question of the night centered on one yearning hope: A third installment of “The X-Files” as a movie franchise, which would pick up where last year’s “X-Files: I Want to Believe” left off. In an interview after the book signing, Carter was elusive … but he did give fans a reason to believe.

Noting the lackluster commercial success of the second film, Carter said the venture was hurt by its timing. The U.S. release “was foolish, opening a week after the blockbuster hit “The Dark Knight … it was really the worst weekend to open any movie.”

The film pulled in an anemic $21 million in the U.S., which fell short of expectations for a film that cost $30 million to make. It did go on, however, to make $47 million in foreign markets. “The movie did a lot of business worldwide so, I think, it’s really up to Fox to decide,”  he said.

Despite the lackluster grosses, there’s no denying the impact of the television series and its characters  on pop culture.  It demonstrated the potential of what the sci-fi genre could achieve on the small screen.  And though recent sci-fi series like “Battlestar Galactica” (a show Carter “likes”) and “X-Files”-influenced “Fringe” have picked up the torch, Carter said crime dramas have handcuffed TV’s limited programming schedules for scripted dramas. 

“When you look at what’s on television right now, there’s a little bit of science fiction, but there’s mostly cop procedurals,” said the 52-year-old Carter.  “People see every episode of ‘Law & Order,’ and all its incarnations, so I don’t know … if you do science fiction on television it’s a little bit of a gamble sometimes.”

But, hey, if that doesn’t work, there’s always the Internet, right? “X-Files” fans have proven there’s an audience out there for all the fan content they’ve created. From fan-fiction to mash-up YouTube videos, people have taken notice. Even the actors that inspired the content, Spotnitz noted.

“You know, there’s a story that David [Duchovny] told when we were doing the movie last year,” Spotnitz said, “about how Gillian had seen a YouTube compilation of all their kisses and David saw that and said it actually affected his performance in the film because it was like reminder of the power of their relationship. So it just tells you how meaningful they are. It really is part of what the ‘X-Files’ is now. It’s just the way the fans re-interpret it.”

And with the release of the book — practically an encyclopedia of “The X-Files” franchise — fans will now have more to interpret, because as one fan said, “The truth will always be out there.”

— Yvonne Villarreal

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Credit: David Duchovny photo by Karen Tapia-Andersen/Los Angeles Times.