Rifkin's perseverance finally paid off when his thirtieth spec script, "Mouse Hunt" (1997), became not only his first one sold to a major studio (DreamWorks) but also that studio's first $100 million hit. On the strength of that success, DreamWorks' Steven Spielberg then entrusted him with the screenplay (although he did not receive sole screenwriting credit) for Joe Dante's "Small Soldiers" (1998), which combined live-action with computer animation. He wrote and directed "Denial" (1998), a film "about infidelity and hypocrisy" starring Jason Alexander, in which he gave himself arguably the juiciest role as a menacingly geeky ne'er-do-well with a penchant for morbidly obese women and for picking fights with anyone who stares at them. One of Rifkin's major disappointments was losing the sequel of "Planet of the Apes," which he had been developing for years, to Oliver Stone (since abandoned), but he could take solace in a three-picture directing deal with DreamWorks. Rifkin also polished the script and helmed "Detroit Rock City" (1999), about a group of kids trying to score tickets to a concert by the rock band KISS.