National Treasure 3 Still Hasn't Happened — Here's Why – Collider

Fifteen years have passed and we’re still wondering what’s hidden on Page 47.
Earlier this week, the first two episodes of National Treasure: Edge of History premiered on Disney+. The series is a clear spin-off set within the same universe as the National Treasure films: 2004's National Treasure and 2007's National Treasure: Book of Secrets. It's now been 15 years since the second movie hit theaters and left audiences with a cliffhanger that strongly implied a third film on the way. However, after all this time, the threequel has still not arrived. Although fans of the franchise are hungry for answers and further U.S. history-based adventures helmed by Nicolas Cage's Benjamin Gates, a third film remains nothing but a nebulous concept, locked in development purgatory.
Midway through National Treasure: Book of Secrets, Gates kidnaps the President of the United States (Bruce Greenwood) to access crucial information regarding the eponymous Book. After the president confirms the legendary Book's existence and gives Gates clues about where to find it, he leaves the historian with the vague advice to check out Page 47. This doesn't come up again until the film's finale, after Gates finds the treasure and reports back to the POTUS. The president asks him if he did, in fact, take a look at Page 47. Gates confirms that he did and describes the information on the page as "life-altering," much to the excitement of fans and the confusion of Gates' colleagues, Riley Poole (Justin Bartha) and Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger).
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Despite this clear segue into a subsequent film that would deliver on the promise of something "life-altering," the concept has still not materialized. The reasons behind the lack of a third film, however, are almost as mysterious as the franchise's clues themselves. After all, both National Treasure films fared well at the box office, and even though critical responses were mixed, the movies garnered sizable fan-followings, particularly among younger viewers. At the time, the franchise almost served as Disney's more family-friendly alternative to the Indiana Jones franchise.
Immediately after Book of Secrets' release, the creators seemed eager to lock into a third film. The first two movies' director and producer, Jon Turteltaub stated in a 2008 interview with Sun Media that another sequel was already in the works. Although he further noted that the creative team was taking its time to make sure the story was done right, he seemed confident that the wait would not be too long. Shortly thereafter, Disney also registered the franchise's IP domain, with a third, and perhaps even a fourth film in mind.
As the 2010s came along, though, development on the project seemed to stall. In 2013, Turteltaub said that he expected a third film in production within the next couple of years. The following year, however, franchise producer Jerry Bruckheimer noted that a new team was taking over the script, and in 2016, Nicolas Cage told Collider that a script was still being written and fact-checked for historical accuracy. Come 2018, Turteltaub explained that finished versions of the script had been drafted, but that Disney was not yet satisfied. He particularly cited the company's desire to make money, and its lack of faith in National Treasure as a moneymaking franchise.
Over a decade had gone by at this point, and the situation remained precarious. Then, in early 2020, news about a third film broke once again, this time naming Chris Bremner as the project's definitive new scriptwriter. Bruckheimer, who had just worked with Bremner on Bad Boys For Life, was also confirmed as still producing the film. While this provided some long overdue good news regarding National Treasure 3, it came at the wrong time. 2020 did not go as planned for Hollywood. Although not explicitly reported, it's highly plausible that the messy film slate during the COVID-19 pandemic put the project on hold yet again. No further word regarding Bremner's involvement surfaced, and when a Reddit user asked Nicolas Cage if there would be a third film during an April 2022 AMA thread, he bluntly responded "No, the priority was to turn it into a TV show, so I would say probably not."
Now it's possible that Cage was pulling an Andrew Garfield and lying out of sworn secrecy to Disney. Still, audiences shouldn't hold their breaths. With all the National Treasure development hiccups since 2007 (some more openly explained than others), the prospect of a third film has grown decreasingly likely. When the first National Treasure came out, it was a different time for Disney. The Chronicles of Narnia and Pirates of the Caribbean series proved that adventure-filled movies could be appealing and successful on the big screen even when not tied to a preexisting franchise. Today, it seems that Disney reserves the theater for Marvel, Star Wars, and Pixar releases, with Disney+ serving as a buffer for less fiscally reliable projects.
Fittingly, National Treasure: Edge of History is a Disney+ exclusive series. While the first two episodes feature appearances from franchise-veteran Harvey Keitel, reprising his role as Peter Sadusky, the show primarily focuses on a younger cast of original characters. Nevertheless, hope remains that more ties will emerge throughout the series, as Justin Bartha will supposedly reprise his role as Riley Poole later in the season, and recently reported that Nicolas Cage might be returning as Benjamin Gates in season two.
Edge of History could thus serve as a springboard to regenerate (or at least gauge) present interest in the franchise before recommitting to a third film. While the mystery of Page 47 could be revealed and solved in the Disney+ series, it would feel all the more satisfying to see it explored through another cinematic adventure, with Cage's Gates once again serving as the primary protagonist. This would be especially true after such a long wait, for despite potential waning interests in the franchise over the years, enough time has passed that National Treasure 3 could maybe feel like a legacy sequel, bringing together nostalgic fans of the early-2000s films along with those newly introduced to the franchise via Disney+. All matters of fan-service, marketability, and development intricacies aside, though, National Treasure still has questions left to answer, and stories left to tell.


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