Despite interest from fans, Disney hasn't given National Treasure 3 the green light yet - but why? It's been 15 years since the first National Treasure movie released in theaters and now over a decade since the sequel, National Treasure: Book of Secrets, released, but development on another sequel is no closer to production than it was back in the late 2000s.
Unlike the first National Treasure movie, which concluded without much set up for the next installment, National Treasure: Book of Secrets' story and ending firmly hinted at not only National Treasure 3 happening but also what the movie's story would be about - at least, what its impetus would be.
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After finding out the location of the president's "book of secrets," the president asks Ben Gates (Nicolas Cage) to take a look at page 47, to see if he could perhaps lend his expertise to its mystery. Ben later tells the president that he can help with solving that mystery and even called it "life altering." It's been almost 12 years since Ben uncovered what was on page 47, yet we're no closer to seeing National Treasure 3's release.
National Treasure 3 Was In Development
Even though National Treasure 3 hasn't happened yet, and perhaps never will, Disney actually had the movie in active development until fairly recently. Shortly after National Treasure: Book of Secrets released, director Jon Turtletaub confirmed that they were working on National Treasure 3, but also that they would take their time making the sequel. Then, in 2013, producer Jerry Bruckheimer affirmed that National Treasure 3 was in development, but that they were having a difficult time cracking the story. However, Bruckheimer also expected to start production on National Treasure 3 sometime in 2015 - but that never happened.
Disney CEO Bob Iger confirmed that National Treasure 3 was still in development in 2016, though, and by 2017, Bruckheimer revealed that the National Treasure 3 script was finished. Unfortunately, Disney wasn't sold on the idea. And so, they went back to the writing stage, and by summer 2018, Turtletaub felt that the script was "close" to being completed. That was the last update on National Treasure 3's development, and unfortunately, it seems they are exactly where they were 10 years ago.
Why National Treasure 3 Isn't Happening
Disney isn't the same studio it was 10-15 years ago; it's not even the same studio that it was seven years ago. Things have changed considerably since National Treasure: Book of Secrets hit theaters in 2007. After multiple box office bombs over the years, namely John Carter, Disney has become quite reserved in the projects they green light - and it's been this way since about 2012. A sequel to anything from before that time would need to be a guaranteed success for it to be put into production. And, as Turtletaub put it in 2018, they haven't been able to deliver a script for National Treasure 3 that Disney was completely sold on.
Interestingly, the only series/franchise from before the Marvel and Lucasfilm acquisitions, and before Walt Disney Studios' leadership changed post-John Carter, that's still going in some capacity is Pirates of the Caribbean. But even now Pirates of the Caribbean is being rebooted, with Johnny Depp being cast aside. There was a point when Tron 3 could've happened, but that didn't end up working out. And now even Tron is being rebooted in some form.
So, National Treasure 3 happening anytime soon (or even at all) is highly unlikely; like Turtletaub suggested, there's just no reason for Disney to tempt fate and spend $150+ million on National Treasure 3 when they could earn $1+ billion from another live-action remake, like Beauty and the Beast or The Lion King, for approximately the same amount of money. The thing is, the first two National Treasure movies were both profitable at the time, with Book of Secrets grossing $457 million worldwide. So it's not like the movies weren't successful. Until Disney decides to strike out and make National Treasure 3 - or even make original movies again - fans will just have to continue to wonder what was on page 47.