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It was nearing the auspicious hour, 10:13 p.m. last Friday night. The Pentagon City 6 movie theater was about to show the day’s last screening of the X-Files movie. X-phile Lois Kirkpatrick stood at the auditorium door, handing out a list of instructions as well as bee pins and stickers—bees play a crucial role in the global conspiracy—to the people going inside.

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The movie started as scheduled. Every time the evil Cigarette-Smoking Man appeared, the audience let out hacking coughs. When agents Dana Scully and Fox Mulder inspected a dark room with their flashlights, audience members whipped out their own flashlights and shone them on the screen. With their cell phones, they rang one another precisely at the moment Mulder phoned Scully on his. They cried out “Scully!” and “Mulder!” during a tense scene in which the agents frantically called for one another in a cornfield. They yelled “You go, girl!” when Scully barked out orders. During one moment of Mulder-Scully passion, somebody called out, “Who’s your daddy?”

Several days before, Kirkpatrick, 36, a public information officer of the Fairfax County library system, had persuaded the manager of the theater, in the shadow of the Pentagon, to start the film that night at the appointed time—1013 is the name of X-Files creator Chris Carter’s production company. She called the event “X-Philes Talk Back to the Screen.”

“I thought this might be fun,” she said. But there was manipulation involved, too: Kirkpatrick rounded up fellow X-philes on the Internet to do her part for box-office receipts. “X-Files fans are extremely knowledgeable about the marketing of the franchise,” she explains. “We keep track of the gross of the movie to see if it’s enough to spawn future movies.” On another occasion, she adds, a guy on the X-Philes newsgroup paid for 41 other people to see it.—Jake Tapper