So far, "Mulan" has grossed $77.1 million, "Dr. Dolittle" $65 million, and "The Truman Show," once considered an iffy proposition because of Jim Carrey's more serious turn, $100 million. "You don't need a big breakaway hit to have a record summer," says Paula Dergarabedian, president of Exhibitor Relations. "Consistency has been the word this year. Even a movie like 'Hope Floats' is up to $52 million. Who would have expected that?"
The success of films with more exposition than explosions suggests that the days of special effects first, script second, may be over. "Audiences want more than just computer-generated effects," says box office analyst Jae Kim, who predicts that the next film to watch is Steven Spielberg's WWII drama "Saving Private Ryan," which opens July 24. "The movie's going to be filled with high-end special effects, but Spielberg is letting the story do the heavy lifting."