“The X-Files” movie handily won the weekend box office competition with a $31 million take, beating runner-up “Mulan” by $7 million. According to Fox execs, exit polls showed that 25% of the film’s weekend audience consisted of “nonfans” of the TV series, alleviating fears that the film would have a narrow appeal.
Some “X-Files” fans, however, thought that by trying to clue in first-time watchers with lengthy exposition — such as the scene where a drunken Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) explains his conspiracy-chasing job to a bartender — the filmmakers may have turned off devotees of the TV series. “I felt like I was watching a two-hour commercial for next season’s episodes,” says Entertainment Weekly senior writer Steve Daly. “It’s like a soda whose sole purpose is to make you thirsty.”
Summer movie hype will usually buy a big opening weekend, but box office longevity is harder to come by. Grosses for “The Truman Show” fell 36% in the movie’s second week, while “Can’t Hardly Wait” slid 50%, and “Godzilla” tumbled a monstrous 59%. The intense publicity focus on each new film’s opening weekend is partly to blame. “Studios are marketing these movies so much by their opening date that they’re cutting their own throats,” says Daly. “People feel like if they can’t make that opening weekend, what’s the point? It’s like the hype for a TV show: If you don’t tune in when it’s broadcast, you’re out of the loop.” As for how well “The X-Files” movie will fare in its second week: Stay tuned, the truth is out there.