Is it Time to Consider ANOTHER X-Files Movie?
Now that the "revival" aka Season 10 of the X-Files has reached a conclusion, speculation is running rampant on what will happen next. Yes, everyone wants to know if that was really the end (probably not), who will survive the germ apocalypse, and if Mulder and Scully will ever reunite with long-lost son William. But more than any other burning question, fans have to be asking what's next for X-Files? Will there be a season 11? Will it be another short run (six to ten episodes) or a more traditional slate (20 plus)? If the X-Files is to return to TV, when the heck is that going to happen? The faithful already waited 14 years for the truth.
Initial reports stated that Fox was happy with their demo numbers and that there is strong interest to keep the X-Files alive. But is TV really the best place to do that? Are we ready for another run of episodes just to wet the pallet or maybe even a complete series reboot?
Another film is the most logicial next step
As X-Files creator Chris Carter recently stated, "it took five months" of negotiating with Fox to get an agreement on the most recent six episode run. He goes on in the same interview to coincide it might be "awhile before we figure out how to do this" (referring to the possibility of next steps). Negotiating an agreement between all the principals, particularly David Duchovny, Gillian Anderson, and Carter will be a delicate and complex process to say the least. Anderson was vocal about her displeasure over Fox's attempts to lowball her on money. That revelation just added more fuel to the already raging fire in Hollywood these days on the topic of gender equality. Duchovny has other series commitments (Aquarius on NBC) and is always quick to toss the "family" objection. And for his part, who can really tell what Carter is thinking? At times in the past he's seemed genuinely disinterested with doing anything X-Files related and his relationships with Fox hasn't always been a cozy one.
The best way to address both the scheduling and money issues is by making a feature film the next step. Agreed pay schedules are higher for everyone on films than on television (excluding those individually negotiating outlier contracts). Everyone should make more money on one film than on a single TV season, especially a short run one. Moreover, trailing compensation can be put in place based on box office performance for the main players (again thinking about Anderson, Duchovny and Carter). This is what Fox just did for star Ryan Reynolds and director Tim Miller with Deadpool according to reports.
Additionally, a principal photography on another X-Files film could be completed in two months or less. Meaning the time commitment needed from the actors (including Duchovny) would be less than the typically gruelling TV schedule. For a short run of a half dozen to ten episodes, there might be not be any difference in time needed. But certainly there would be a significant difference for anything close to a traditional full seasons versus a feature film. Plus it's possible to be creative with production schedules and compact the shooting schedule for one star even more if needed (although this clearly could place some parameters on the story and script). Studios do this all the time to accommodate actors with existing television commitments. Either way the lure of more money and a compact schedule should accelerate the negotiating obstacles.
It's time for the story get bigger again
As that large scale and yet very frustrating finale demonstrated, the X-Files is bursting to tell a global story. In the show's heyday, it had some success telling such stories through multiple episode (and even multiple season) story arcs. Today's viewing consumers are unlikely to be so patient. Remember, X-Files debuted before the Internet, social media, and text messaging. We lived in the world where we happily waited for Friday night (and then later Sunday Night) to see the new exploits of our favorite FBI agents.
Admittedly, there are many programs on TV today telling compelling stories and holding audiences. But most of the programs are no longer on network television and frankly, they have less history (and baggage) to deal with. It has become increasingly more difficult for the X-Files to tell an original story through the small screen. After 9 1/2 seasons, that shouldn't be a complete surprise.
Forget what you know
As I typed the title to this post, I'm pretty sure I threw up a little in mouth. A quick fit of nausea was unavoidable when the thought of the two previous X-Files crossed my mind. Let's be realistic ... the results weren't even good enough to be considered mixed. The first film, Fight the Future, was mediocre at best. The second film, I Want to Believe, well ... I want to believe they never really made that one.
But maybe everyone learned their lessons. Right? The biggest mistake Carter's team made with their previous feature film attempts was they didn't use film people. I'm not talking about the people in front of the camera. I'm referring to those behind the scenes. With all respect to Frank Sponitz, Darin Morgan, Kim Manners, and many others, a feature film needs a film crew. Something is often lost between small screen and big screen when writers, directors, and others try to make that jump. Yes, it's been done successfully before but in the history of the industry, there have been too many failed transitions to begin to count.
The third time can in fact be the charm for the X-Files movie as long as Carter and the TV people accept their place in the backseat. Fox needs to put a top notch film crew on everything from story creation and scripting to filming and directing. Yes, Carter needs to be a strong consultant with the veto power (think George Lucas on Empire Strikes Back and Return of the Jedi, not Lucas on the very flawed SW prequels). It's not a role that Carter is likely to accept easily, but one he needs to ultimately accept.
Of course, it may all be for naught. Carter has proven time and time again that he's man willing to wait it out and work on his own terms. There was plenty of bad blood with lopsided synidcation deals and demanding stars during the series original run. While he admits there is "still more story to tell," in classical Carter fashion he may just leave the rest of that story up to us.