The truth is out there. But is the audience?

"The X-Files" opened in theaters Friday as a Hollywood novelty: a movie made from a TV series that is still hot, with the same actors and a script that advances the small-screen story line.The movie's challenge is to appeal to both hard-core fans - the "X-Philes" - as well as non-fans who don't even know whether Mulder or Scully is the guy. (It's Mulder.)

"It was a trick, and we knew it would be a trick," said "X-Files" guru Chris Carter, producer of the movie and creator of the Fox show about government conspiracies, personal psychoses and the extraterrestrial. "But we wanted to get a larger `X-Files' audience."

Carter attempts to do this by producing an "X-Files" movie that is a bigger, noisier, more action-packed version of the TV show, with elaborate special effects, including a skyscraper bombing.

The story is self-contained and mostly understandable to the non-initiated. The plot picks up from last season's TV cliffhanger and lays the groundwork for at least another season.

The 20th Century Fox movie cost $60 million to make - about 50 times the cost of a one-hour episode of the TV show - and is being released as a summer event, heavily promoted and accompanied by CD-ROM games and two soundtracks.

Hollywood is well known for adapting television shows to the big screen, from "Mission: Impossible" to "The Brady Bunch Movie," not to mention the "Star Trek" movies. But those were all made after the original TV shows were off the air.

The "X-Files" producers can take heart in knowing they are not alone out there. The Internet-connected X-Philes have already mobilized to try to make the film a success. One chat room posting called on fans to save their money to see the movie over and over and to wage a letter campaign.

"Everyone must write their local movie critics and nicely ask them not to harshly criticize the film - or incur the wrath of X-Philes all over the world," said the message, signed "Anonymous."

In "The X-Files" movie, the main characters are quickly and deftly introduced. Then, FBI agent Fox Mulder (David Duchovny) and partner Dana Scully (Gillian Anderson) are reassigned from their creepy "X-Files" duty to an anti-terrorism unit.

It doesn't take long before they plunge into a gross, gooey, violent world of the unknown, with strings being pulled by that shadowy cabal of sinister souls from the TV show, including the mysterious nicotine-fiend Smoking Man.

The "X-Files" fan emerges with some answers to questions raised over the five-year run of the show, but much remains to be resolved, like Mulder and Scully's relationship, which has been chaste.

In fact, it's pretty much business as usual between our heroes - Scully, the scientifically minded skeptic, and Mulder, the intense, sullen and often reckless one whose beliefs constantly get him into hot water with his FBI bosses - and their world of weirdness.

"Everyone was like: We're doing a movie, it's costing a lot of money, you're getting paid more money, what are you going to do different? Are you going to make it better?" Duchovny said. "Well, if there were things that I thought could be better, I would have changed them already. I'm playing him the same."