“The X Files: I Want to Believe” did not exactly set the box-office on fire this weekend, opening in fourth place with just $10.2 million.
Fox — or at least Chris Carter — will spin this as less than negative for a couple of reasons: “The Dark Knight” continued to dominate the screen, so anything opened this weekend was going to be crushed under its Bat-momentum; “I Want to Believe” was made on the cheap, coming in somewhere in the neighborhood of $30 million, so it doesn’t need to gross $300 million; all the fanboys were off at Comic-Con this weekend, and they’ll pick it up on DVD.
Most of those things are true. (Like “The Happening”, I expect “I Want to Believe” will be a huge hit on DVD, as everyone rushes to see whether it could possibly be as bad as they’ve heard.)
But the larger truth is that “I Want to Believe” was released to a great, collective “meh” from moviegoers. Even the show’s most die-hard fans are acknowledging that the toxic word-of-mouth on the movie is, well, a reasonable assessment. Carter had been talking about using this film to test whether audiences would be game for another mythology-related feature a few years down the road — say, sometime in 2012, when that long-threatened alien invasion is supposedly scheduled to occur.
Maybe he should have made that movie first. Because he’s not going to get the chance to make it now.