Without risk, there is no reward, and in the new year, great chances are being taken: Will Cruise's 'Eyes' open? Can Courtney be loved? Will Tom Hanks shoot the 'Moon'? EW handicaps the 1998 race for riches.
1 THE X-FILES MOVIE
The truth about the X-Files movie is out there, and here it is: After nearly five years of watching FBI special agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully skulk around abandoned warehouses in search of extraterrestrials, enigmatic father figures, and perhaps even one another’s affections, we can discern virtually nothing about The Conspiracy or about the shadowy government entities behind it. For all we know, those green-blooded shape-shifters are really just a bunch of Shriners from Scranton who got hold of some spoiled pimiento loaf. Now a reportedly $60 million movie version of The X-Files, opening June 19, promises to unravel some of the series’ darkest mysteries. Picking up where the show’s season-ending cliff-hanger leaves off, the movie could possibly tie up some of the loose ends that have kept The X-Files’ cult of viewers coming back week after week: Who are their parents? Who are those aliens exactly? Who (or what) is behind the government investigation? And will Scully and Mulder ever probe anything other than aliens (like each other)? As Chris Carter, the show’s creator, who also wrote the movie script, puts it, ”We’re definitely going to be giving away some big secrets.”
And therein lies perhaps the year’s biggest entertainment gamble: What happens when a series based on unexplained phenomena starts explaining itself?
Never before has such a successful show tried expanding its scope by stretching onto the big screen this way (a 1966 film version of Batman featured the show’s stars but had very little plot connection with the popular TV series). It’s a risk Carter thinks The X-Files requires. ”By answering some of the bigger questions,” he says, ”we think we can reinvigorate the series. By the start of the sixth season, the characters will have seen things, done things, learned things that they hadn’t known before. And they’ll have new reasons to carry on.”
The mysteries Carter & Co. have developed are an essential part of The X-Files’ success. ”It’s a big risk tampering with the formula,” says Scott Edelman, editor of Science Fiction Age magazine. ”Those mysteries are what keep the show alive after all these years. Answer any one of them in the movie and the show’s in danger of losing some of its steam.”
Then again, the filmmakers are smart enough to realize the power of giving out choice bits of information. ”There’s no such thing as solving these mysteries,” says director Rob Bowman. ”As you dig for clues, new questions keep popping up. It’s like you hit sand, then gold, then sand, then more gold.”
But will the movie be able to mine an audience that isn’t slavishly devoted to the show? Carter thinks so. ”If you make something well enough,” he says, ”it will bring people to the movies. All I’m trying to do is something that’s really cool with characters that have been successful already.”
Cult hit or not, nothing’s a sure thing. ”My fear is that what works well on TV might come across as vapid in a movie,” admits Gillian Anderson, who plays Scully. ”There’s a chance that the cryptic, cultic dialogue we use [every week] could prove confusing to people. I hope not. I don’t want people walking away from the movie asking, ‘What was going on with that chick?”’