What is Chris Carter’s Net Worth and Salary?
Chris Carter is an American television show creator, writer, producer and director who has a net worth of $200 million. Not to be confused with the retired NFL player Cris Carter, this Chris Carter is best known for being the creator, executive producer and writer of “The X-Files”. The X-Files debuted on September 10, 1993 and ran until May 19, 2002. During that time The X-Files aired 202 episodes over nine seasons on the Fox network.
The X-Files would eventually go on to become one of the highest rated and most profitable shows for Fox and launched both David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson’s careers into A-List status. The show also spawned two feature films that performed modestly at the box office. At the peak of his success, Carter signed lucrative production deals with Fox that allowed him to create several new series in addition to The X-Files. Unfortunately none of these new shows ended up lasting very long. But The X-Files still holds a coveted spot in the history of popular television. It can still be seen in syndication on a regular basis today and arguably changed dramatic television forever.
In 2016 The X-Files was brought back to network television for a six episode run. It came back for a ten episode run in 2018.
1998 Fox Deal
As we mentioned a moment ago, in 1998 at the peak of X-Files mania, Chris signed a production deal with 20th Century Fox that paid him an estimated $25 million upfront to keep him at the network for dive years. That’s the same as $45 million in today’s dollars. Crucially, the deal also allowed for Chris to renegotiate his syndication ownership deal. Under the new terms of the deal, Carter is entitled to 25% of gross licensing fees earned over $300,000 per episode. This deal point has likely earned Chris hundreds of millions of dollars over the years. Minimum $100-150 million.
Separately at the same time he also signed a lucrative production deal with the film division of Fox.
Carter was born on October 13, 1956 in Bellflower, California. He grew up playing baseball and surfing because his family lived near the beach. His father worked in the construction industry while his mother primarily stayed home with the family.
Carter attended California State University – Long Beach and studied journalism. After he graduated in 1979, he started writing for “Surfing Magazine,” a San-Clemente-based journal and eventually became the editor at the age of 28. He remained with the magazine for thirteen years.
While remaining at “Surfing Magazine,” Carter also began pursuing other writing work thanks to his wife’s connections at Walt Disney Studios. Carter was hired on a standard contract and began writing films for the studio in the mid-1980s. He wrote “The B.R.A.T. Patrol” in 1986 and “Meet the Munceys” in 1988. Because of these early films, Carter was associated with contemporary youth comedies though he felt he would actually be more interested in writing serious drama.
After meeting the president of NBC, Brandon Tartikoff, as a company softball game, Tartikoff agreed to read some of Carter’s scripts. He liked what he read and invited Carter to write for the network. Carter began his career at NBC by writing a number of pilots that ultimately went unproduced, including “Cameo By Night,” “Brand New Life,” and “Copter Cop,” among others. Carter also accepted a job as a producer on “Rags to Riches,” in order to learn more abut the work it took to produce a series.
Around this time, Carter also met Peter Roth, who worked at CBS. Roth had read one of Carter’s unproduced pilot scripts and was interested in working with him. Once Roth left CBS to work for Fox, he brought Carter over as part of the first wave of new staff hired in 1992 to develop material for the network. It was then that Carter began to work on a series based on some of his childhood favorites like “The Twilight Zone” and “Kolchak: The Night Stalker.”
Before developing “The X-Files,” Carter had never been interested in creating a science fiction series, having not read much science fiction in his youth. Instead, he based the characters in the script on the English television series, “The Avengers.” He was also inspired by a survey his friend John Mack had conducted that revealed three percent of the population believed they had been abducted by aliens. He wrote an eighteen-page treatment for his new project, which was initially rejected at a pitch meeting at Fox. However, with Roth’s help, he was able to arrange a second meeting and the studio agreed to greenlight the pilot.
After the starring leads, Gillian Anderson and David Duchovny, agreed to join the project, Carter was given a $2 budget for the pilot episode. The pilot aired in what was considered an unpopular time slot but still earned relatively impressive ratings and Fox ordered twenty-four episodes. Over the course of the season, the series’ ratings and popularity continued to grow. By the third season, it had received a Golden Globe Award for Best Television Series – Drama and also broke records for the highest price paid by a network for the rights to air re-runs, as Fox’s sister network FX, paid $600,000 per episode.
After Carter’s initial three-year contract with Fox ended, he was able to negotiate a five-year contract which included a guarantee of a feature film adaptation of the series as well as another television project. “The X-Files” remained on air for nine total seasons from 1993 until 2002. During its time on air, it received 62 total Emmy Award nominations and 16 total wins. It also was nominated for 12 Golden Globes, winning five of them, and 14 SAG Awards, winning twice.
In 1996, Carter also created the feature film, “The X-Files,” which ultimately premiered in 1998 and grossed over $189 million. Carter also created “Millennium,” a new series inspired by an episode from the second season of “The X-Files.” The series earned a People’s Choice Award in the category of Favorite New TV Dramatic Series during its first season in 1996. Carter handed over control of the show to other writers he had previously worked with and by the third season, ratings had fallen and it was cancelled.
In March of 2015 Carter confirmed that he was set as the executive producer of “The X-Files” revival, a six-episode television event. In 2017, Fox renewed the series for its 11th season, which Carter wrote and produced. Ratings were positive at the beginning but then trailed off as the season continued.
Outside of “The X-Files,” Carter also created “The Lone Gunman” in 2001. It lasted for thirteen episodes. He created the police thriller, “Unique,” in 2011 but it never aired. In 2014, he created the Amazon Studios series, “The After.” The series was green-lit but then cancelled in 2015.
In 1983, Carter began dating Dori Pierson. The two had met through one of Pierson’s cousins who also worked at “Surfing Magazine.” The couple were married in 1987 and live in Santa Barbara.
Carter developed an interest in pottery as an adult and has made thousands of pieces. He has compared the hobby to Zen meditation.
In March 2017 Chris listed one of his Malibu homes for $10 million. He bought the house in 1999 for $1.6 million. He sold a different Malibu home in 2010 for $16 million to fashion designer James Perse. Perse would sell this house in 2020 for $34 million.
Chris and his wife own at least one, and possibly two other homes in Malibu. The also own a condo in Santa Monica, a condo in Oregon, a ranch in Jackson, Wyoming and a $4 million house in Santa Barbara plus three empty parcels in Santa Barbara.
In 2004 Chris and his wife Dori Pierson paid $4 million for a 130 acre farm in Santa Ynez, California. They first listed this property in 2013. It took 7 full years for them to find a buyer. It was in October 2020 that they finally clicked at $6.5 million.