Producer Jerry Bruckheimer confirms National Treasure 3 is moving forward 16 years after Disney and Jerry Bruckheimer Films first unearthed a franchise in 2004's National Treasure, the Jon Turteltaub-directed adventure film starring Nicolas Cage as a historian and treasure hunter investigating clues from a centuries-old mystery. Disney discovered gold a second time with 2007's National Treasure: Book of Secrets, which ended with the promise of a sequel when Ben Gates (Cage) and his team — like-minded father Patrick Gates (Jon Voight), archivist Dr. Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger), and Ben’s best friend and go-to technology expert Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) — offering their help with a "life-altering" discovery promised by the elusive Page 47 contained in the secret-filled President's Book.
In 2007, ahead of the sequel taking the adventurers abroad to Paris and London, Cage revealed hopes for a third movie bringing Gates on an international mystery across continents, including Asia and Africa.
By 2008, after Book of Secrets earned $457 million worldwide, outgrossing the $347 million of the original, Turteltaub told Jam! Showbiz, "Our philosophy is that, until we have a great story, a great adventure and a great piece of history to explore, there's no point in making the movie. But we are working on it."
Bruckheimer First Confirms National Treasure 3 in 2008
That same year, after both films earned Disney a combined $804 million worldwide, Bruckheimer confirmed a third National Treasure was in the works during a Disney exhibitor appearance in September 2008. By 2010, the project was still in the story and plotting phase with Pirates of the Caribbean and The Lone Ranger screenwriters Ted Elliott and Terry Rossio, who developed the story for Book of Secrets. A first script draft was completed that same year.
Bruckheimer Says It's "Never" Too Late for a Sequel
In 2014, after Cage and Bartha said a sequel remained a possibility in 2012 and 2013, respectively, Bruckheimer revealed the hold up with a National Treasure 3:
"Those are the hardest movies to make 'cause they're all based on clues. It's so difficult to work them out," the producer told Collider, adding both he and Turteltaub were "very excited" by early pages from the third film's script. Asked if he believes a "window of opportunity" can expire during the lengthy gap between an original movie and a potential sequel, Bruckheimer replied, "Never."
National Treasure 3 Being Developed, Not Yet Greenlit
During Disney's shareholder meeting in late 2016, then CEO Bob Iger confirmed "time and some resources" were spent developing National Treasure 3, but noted the project had not officially received the green light at the studio.
Fact-Checking and Historical Accuracy
In mid-2016, almost a decade after the release of the second movie, Cage told Entertainment Weekly the threequel's screenwriters were "fact-checking" the script:
"I haven't really heard anything about that," Cage said of the third movie. "I do know that those scripts are very difficult to write, because there has to be some credibility in terms of the facts and fact-checking, because it was relying on historical events. And then you have to make it entertaining. I know that it's been a challenge to get the script where it needs to be. That's as much as I've heard. But they're still working on it."
Script Is "Close," But Third Movie Not a Priority For Disney
11 years after Book of Secrets, Turtletaub said a script was "close" to being ready, but noted a third National Treasure wasn't a priority for Disney:
"When National Treasure first got made, there was a lot more money to go around. Everybody got paid nicely. The problem with getting the third one made isn't the people who are getting paid saying, 'I'm not doing it unless you pay me a lot!' It's really that Disney feels they have other films they want to make that they think will make them more money," the director told Collider in summer 2018, by which point Disney launched such hit franchises as Star Wars and the Marvel Cinematic Universe. "I think they're wrong. I think they're right about the movies they're making; they're obviously doing a really good job at making great films. I just think this would be one of them, and they don't quite realize how much the Internet is begging for a third National Treasure."
Script Adds a New Writer
This past January, Bruckheimer recruited Bad Boys for Life screenwriter Chris Bremner to take a pass at National Treasure 3.
National Treasure 3 and TV Series "Very Active" at Disney0comments
Updating the project in May 2020, Bruckheimer revealed a television series is in development for the Disney+ streaming service alongside a National Treasure 3 planned for theatrical release with the original cast. In a recent interview, Bruckheimer said, "Hopefully, they'll both come together and we'll bring you another National Treasure, but they're both very active."
National Treasure 3 has not been dated by Disney.