One thing is for certain -- if the mysteries surrounding "The X-Files" are ever wrapped up, it won't be on the small screen; it will be on the big screen. And Carter said he's absolutely certain there will be another movie to follow up 1998's film debut.
He pointed out that the first "X-Files" movie grossed $85 million domestically and nearly another $115 million internationally."It's a successful movie. It means we'll do another movie," Carter said. "That movie will answer the question if there will be a third movie."
Of course, he isn't sure when a second "X-Files" movie will be released -- but he does know that it won't be in theaters in the summer of 2000, just after the TV series will probably come to an end. He said he and his staff have been too busy in recent months, what with moving the show from Vancouver to Los Angeles and keeping the series going this season.
"It would have been great to have it happen at the end of the seventh year, but that means we would have had to have made it this summer, and I can tell you it is not going to happen this summer," Carter said. "But I can see it possibly happening in 2001 or 2002.
"Maybe a year is a good amount of time before the next movie. Right now, we're playing it by ear, because we've got as much as we can possibly handle."
And, while neither Gillian Anderson nor David Duchovny has actually signed a contract to do another "X-Files" movie, Carter said they're "very enthusiastic" about the prospect, and he doesn't doubt that they will.
"Well, Gillian asked me the other day about doing the movie, so I know she's excited about it," Carter said. "I'm assuming David is excited, too. We've spoken about it. It's a matter of finding the time and setting the time aside.
"I think both David and Gillian, and rightly so, have movie careers ahead of them. And they're very anxious to start doing something besides playing Mulder and Scully. Who could blame them? So I think it's giving them some time to exercise those creative urges and then come back and put on the FBI clothes again."
When the next "X-Files" movie does come about, expect it to be rather different from the first one.
"I have big ideas for the second movie," he said. "One of the tricks in doing 'The X-Files' movie was to be creatively conservative. We still had two more years left to do on the series and we didn't want to do a movie that would reduce interest in the series. We wanted to do a movie that would increase interest in the series. And to do that, I had to perform tricks that most moviemakers don't ever have to think about."
Those tricks -- making the movie fit in the middle of the series arc -- will no longer be necessary once the series comes to an end.
"I'm looking forward to the time when I can make a movie that doesn't have those requirements and those restrictions," Carter said.
KEEPING IT GOING: While some "X-Files" fans complain that there aren't more episodes dealing with the entire "mythology" of the series -- the alien conspiracy and whatnot -- Carter makes no apologies.
"You've got to tell 22 stories (each season), and if you just told those (mythology) stories I think you might find that the show would have been somewhat shorter lived than it is," he said.
THE MASTER PLAN: Almost six seasons into "The X-Files," Carter said the show has ended up pretty much where he expected it to be.
"It does take twists and turns you don't imagine, but if you have a rough idea of where you're going then you don't get lost," he said. "But if you try to define it too early and too well, then you lose some of the fun of discovering it along the way.
"I use the Lewis and Clark analogy all the time. They knew the direction they were headed and didn't know what they were going to find. That's kind of the way we've been proceeding."
A KISS IS JUST A KISS: Carter admits to some consternation over the fan reaction to one scene in the "X-Files" movie -- the scene in which Mulder and Scully may or may not have kissed one another.
"I was actually thinking about how much excitement there was over a kiss," he said. "I mean, considering what people put in movies these days, I thought that was actually pretty tame stuff. That lips touching -- which I think never happened in the movie -- could create so much excitement.
"I think that the sexual tension is there. It's ripe. But I still think that Mulder and Scully are interesting to you and to me because of their platonic relationship."
END OF THE "MILLENNIUM"? While "The X-Files" remains a big hit, Carter's other series -- "Millennium" -- has never caught on with viewers. It's limping through its third season with weak ratings -- and the only feasible explanation as to why it's still on the air is that Fox wants to keep Carter happy.
But, while he still talks up the show, he's also pretty much conceding defeat at the same time.
"I think that we're still doing pretty great work on the show. That's something that I'm very proud of, and I wish it had a larger audience, because I think it deserves it," he said. "I hope 'Millennium' comes back next year. I'm not counting on it. But I think it deserves to come back, because I think it's still quality storytelling."
(Well, he obviously thinks so. There are others of us who have never seen the appeal of "Millennium.")
NEW SHOW: Even if, as expected, "Millennium" doesn't come back next season, Carter may still end up with two shows on the air. He's working on yet another science-fiction series for Fox.
"It's based on a comic book called 'Harsh Realm,' but it really owes the title to the comic book and not a whole lot more," Carter said. "It deals with virtual reality, but a spin on what we think of as the visored approach to that."