The first National Treasure starring Nicolas Cage was a big hit for Disney when it came out back in 2004. The film grossed $347 million worldwide off a $100 million budget, and the sequel, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, performed even better by earning $457 million worldwide. And yet while there’s been rumblings of a third installment over the past ten years, Disney hasn’t really made much of a push for National Treasure 3.
Speaking to director Jon Turteltaub, who directed both National Treasure movies along with the upcoming giant shark flick The Meg, Steve Weintraub asked why exactly Disney hasn’t moved forward with a third National Treasure:
“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. 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.”
As for whether or not they had a script they could have moved forward with, Turteltaub explained the script was on its way, but Disney wasn’t enthusiastic enough to keep developing it:
“The script was close, but not so great that the studio couldn’t say yes. But it’s been good enough that the studio could have said, “Yes, keep going. Get closer.” [Producer] Jerry Bruckheimer is the master of taking something that’s good enough and turning it into something great in about an hour and a half. It’s a little nerve-wracking but it works.”
This is kind of the downside of a corporate behemoth like Disney. They crank out so many movies from Marvel, Lucasfilm, Pixar, and Disney animation, that they’re kind of set already with franchises. They’re not hurting for another National Treasure, especially when you consider that Nicolas Cage doesn’t have the same level of star power he did a decade ago (Cage is still great, but he’s more of an indie/direct-to-video actor now along with some supporting work in bigger movies). “The Internet” may be asking for National Treasure 3, but that’s not enough to say that the interest is still there for the larger public. Although the first two movies were hits, at this point, National Treasure 3 is kind of a gamble for a studio that doesn’t really have to take risks.