After more than 16 years since the last film in the franchise, here is everything we know about National Treasure 3.
Starring Nicolas Cage as the treasure-hunting patriot Benjamin Franklin Gates, the first two National Treasure movies were released in 2004 and 2007 coming from director Jon Turteltaub and Pirates of the Caribbean producer Jerry Bruckheimer.
The first two movies grossed over $800 million at the worldwide box office (via Box Office Mojo), but National Treasure has yet to be revisited on the silver screen.
When Is National Treasure 3 Releasing?
As far back as 2008, producer Jerry Bruckheimer has been laying the groundwork for a potential National Treasure 3.
While no official release date has been announced, a third film in the treasure-hunting franchise still seems to be on the cards.
A first draft for the threequel's script was originally completed back in 2010, with that first script having gone through several phases of rewrites in 2016 and 2018 with Disney seemingly not being on board with the direction of the movie.
In January 2020, however, a major breakthrough would come with Bad Boys for Life scribe Chris Bremner hired to do a page-one rewrite of the movie.
Speaking with Collider in a May 2020 interview Bruckheimer remarked that work was still being done on National Treasure 3 with "the same cast" from the first two movies involved:
"We’re certainly working on one [National Treasure] for streaming and we’re working on one for the big screen. Hopefully, they’ll both come together and we’ll bring you another National Treasure, but they’re both very active....The one for Disney+ is a much younger cast. It’s the same concept but a young cast. The one for theatrical would be the same cast."
The third National Treasure film would eventually be delayed by Disney as the studio sought to get the franchise's streaming series off the ground.
That streaming show has since come and gone (being canceled after one season) with little to no new information on the incoming National Treasure 3.
Last fans heard, Bruckheimer said that a working script had been completed and he thought they'd "get it to [Nicolas Cage] shortly for approval (via Comicbook):
"Let's hope we're working on the script right now. Hopefully [Cage] likes it, but it's really good. So I think we'll get it to him shortly."
No confirmation of the movie moving forward has been given since then from Bruckheimer, Disney, or Cage, but perhaps it is only a matter of time before Treas-heads get another update on the film.
Who Could Return in National Treasure 3?
While it still remains to be seen who exactly will be in National Treasure 3, producer Jerry Bruckheimer has made it clear he wants to move forward with the original cast.
In an August 2022 interview with E! News, Bruckheimer revealed Disney wanted a National Treasure with "a new cast" which turned into the Disney+ series, which came in addition to the "National Treasure for the theaters with Nicolas Cage:"
"We said we'd like to make another National Treasure and they said, ‘Sure, let's come up with a new cast. At the same time, we were developing National Treasure for the theaters with Nicolas Cage—which we still are. So, that's ongoing."
In the way that an Indiana Jones movie could not happen without Harrison Ford, one can assume, that if a new National Treasure movie is coming to theaters, Nicolas Cage will be in it.
Given scripts for the film were being sent to Cage for approval as late as 2022, it seems like a near-certainty to say his Ben Gates will be back searching for yet another treasure.
As for the cast surrounding Cage's beloved lover of antiquities, there are a couple of names fans can expect to come in two.
Justin Bartha (who played tech-whiz Riley Poole in the first two films) told Variety in December 2022 that returning for National Treasure 3 would be a "no-brainer" for him:
"There is still hope for another movie. Nic is obviously doing great, one of the greatest ever. Jerry just had a big hit with 'Top Gun: Maverick,' and he is doing great. And the constant drum beat from the fans for a third movie just makes it a no-brainer for me."
Bartha was one of two of the movie actors to appear in the ill-fated National Treasure TV series, being joined by Harvey Keitel's FBI agent Peter Sadusky. Given Keitel's involvement in the streaming series, it would make sense that he come back again for a big-screen threequel.
Ben Gates' father (played by Jon Voight) and love interest Abigail Chase (Diane Kruger) are also likely to appear as members of the original core cast. In the case of Kruger, the National Treasure actress has said "never say never" about returning (per ComicBook), so it seems like she has some interest.
What Might Happen in National Treasure 3?
As for what could happen in National Treasure 3, surely the plot will center around another American-centric treasure of some sort, with the team racing to find it before some maniacal big bad.
One loose thread the threequel could pick up on would involve the mysterious page 47 of the President's Book of Secrets (a book that contains every secret of the United States of America).
At the end of the second film, Justin Bartha's Riley describes to the President of the United States the contents of page 47 are "life-altering," seemingly teasing that whatever is next was being set up all the way back in 2007.
The third movie could see Riley, finally crack the code of some incredible artifact of American history, forcing Nicolas Cage's Ben Gates and Diane Kruger's Abigail Chase - who are now happily married as revealed in National Treasure: Edge of History - back into the game of treasure hunting.
A couple of artifacts some have speculated could be the subject of their chase this time around include the missing 18-and-a-half minutes of the Watergate Tapes (which would be a more modern treasure to go after for the team), the Virginian Beale Cyphers, the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum's lost art, or the contents of the Santa Maria (aka Christopher Columbus' ship that first landed in North America).
If National Treasure 3 was potentially the last film in the franchise, any of these treasures would be worthy of one final ride for Ben Gates and the team.
National Treasure and National Treasure: Book of Secrets are streaming now on Disney+.