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When Will National Treasure 3 Be Released?

In 2004, Walt Disney Pictures and Buena Vista Pictures released National Treasure, a historical action-mystery film that's still proving a fun watch (or re-watch) 16 years later. It stars Nicholas Cage as historian and treasure hunter Ben Gates, who has been searching for a specific hidden treasure trove for most of his adult life. He's aided by his best friend Riley (Justin Bartha), love interest Abigail (Diane Kruger) and father Patrick (Jon Voight).

National Treasure received mixed reviews at the time of its release (a Salon review called it the "ridiculous guilty pleasure America needs today"), but now has a generally positive audience rating on Rotten Tomatoes, at 76 percent. Still, years later, National Treasure is a film being frequently talked about, written about, and analyzed for historical accuracy. Plus, it was successful enough to garner a sequel, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, which was released in 2007. The follow-up focused on Ben setting out to prove his ancestor Thomas Gates' innocence, after Thomas was accused of having been a co-conspirator in the assassination of President Lincoln.

After witnessing what seemed to be a set-up for a longer franchise, many awaited the news of a third National Treasure film after the release of the second. When nothing panned out, a lot of fans figured the threequel just wouldn't happen. As it turns out, National Treasure 3 is unexpectedly coming back around. Here's what we know so far about when National Treasure 3 might be released. 

National Treasure 3 has been in the works for a while

As early as 2009, just a couple years after the second film's release, it was being reported that a third National Treasure was in the works. This came shortly after producer Jerry Bruckheimer told ComingSoon.net in November 2008 that writers were beginning work on the script. A few years passed without any new information coming out, but in 2013, Justin Bartha — who plays comedic-relief-slash-best-friend Riley Poole in the franchise — was asked about National Treasure 3 during an interview with Motion Captured. Bartha told the outlet at the time that the third film was still a possibility and that the script had been written.

Several more years passed without much chatter about National Treasure 3, but in 2018, Collider conducted an interview with Jon Turteltaub, who directed National Treasure and National Treasure: Book of Secrets. Turtletaub opened up about why the third film hadn't been made yet, revealing that the script was more or less ready to go, but the powers that be weren't completely interested in going forward with the story. 

"The script was close, but not so great that the studio [could] say yes. But it's been good enough that the studio could have said, 'Yes, keep going. Get closer,'" he explained. "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."

Recent updates on National Treasure 3 give us an idea of a possible release

Another couple of years went by without significant National Treasure 3 news, but in January 2020, The Hollywood Reporter confirmed (in a write-up about Bad Boys 4, of all things) that the film had found a new screenwriter. Chris Bremner, who wrote 2020's Bad Boys for Life and the upcoming Bad Boys 4, was given the job to take on the long-awaited sequel. In tandem with that news, Collider also announced that Bruckheimer would return to produce National Treasure 3

Little else is known about the upcoming film, including how much of the initial script that was being worked on will be implemented into Bremner's version. But with discussion arising again about the third installment, Reed addressed the returned interest and said, "I think it's ripe to reinvent."

In September 2020, Collider spoke with Jason Reed, who served as a producer on the two films, about why National Treasure 3 was never seen all the way through in years past. Reed admitted he tried his hardest to get the third film made because of how much he loved and was deeply involved in the first two. He then explained why he thinks it never happened, saying, "What I felt happened is even though the movies were extremely successful and had a really strong fanbase, it's a movie that gets brought up all the time, the company was never able to capitalize on it as a franchise. It was more of a movie with a sequel and National Treasure 3 would have been another sequel."

Now, movies take time to be made even in the best of circumstances, but in our current era, with a global pandemic making it difficult to shoot films and TV shows, National Treasure 3 may need longer than normal to make it to the silver screen. There's been no word as of February 2021 regarding when production might begin, though it doesn't seem like it will be feasible until at least late 2021 or early 2022, at the very earliest. Factoring in time for principal photography, possible reshoots, edits, promotion, and the rest, and that would set National Treasure 3 up for a potential release date of early 2023. Again, nothing has been confirmed as far as any of this is concerned, but that's a rough estimate fans can cling to for now.

The National Treasure franchise will also show up on the small screen

It turns out that a third film isn't the only National Treasure content in the works, so even if it's several more years until National Treasure 3 is released, fans have something else to look forward to. In a yet another Collider interview, published in May 2020, Bruckheimer broke the news that a National Treasure series in the works for Disney+. He also addressed the third theatrical film.

"We're certainly working on one for streaming and we're working on one for the big screen," said Bruckheimer. "They're both very active." 

He continued by acknowledging that the series will feature "a much younger cast" but will revolve around "the same concept," and also confirmed that the new theatrical film will have the same cast. Bruckheimer further explained, "The film version is being written right now. The television version is in process. We have a pilot script done and an outline of the future episodes."

After over a decade without National Treasure content, fans will finally be getting what they want — and in almost a treasure trove amount, with not only just a long-awaited film, but also a new series to go along with it.