15 years ago, Diane Kruger, Nicolas Cage, and Justin Bartha landed another Disney hit when they returned for 2007’s National Treasure: Book of Secrets. The wildly popular franchise seemed like it was on track for a bright future, or at the very least a third installment that perpetually seems like it’s just about to happen. It all leads to a question that’s still very valid: did National Treasure 3 almost happen, and we just didn’t know about it? As luck would have it, Ms. Kruger herself filled us in on some of the unknown history to this puzzling fan favorite.
CinemaBlend was invited to take part in the press day for Universal’s global espionage thriller The 355, and it was then that our own Sean O’Connell asked the Disney franchise vet about that much talked about second sequel. As it turns out, the progress that others like Nic Cage himself were talking up over the years may not have been as promising as we were led to believe. Diane Kruger’s version of this story suggests as much, as you’ll read below:
Ms. Kruger’s admissions above simultaneously compliment and debunk pieces of the extended history of delays National Treasure 3 has encountered. Confirming that sequel talks started rather quickly after release of National Treasure: Book of Secrets, but stating that “there was never a script” certainly reframes the conversation around this threequel’s time in development hell. Perhaps the most shocking development is that, according to what she’s said above, there may have been a chance that Nicolas Cage’s Ben Gates could have returned, only without Dr. Abigail Chase.
It was bad enough when it looked like the next history based treasure hunt in Disney’s cinematic catalog seemed to run into troubles when it couldn’t be leveraged as a potential theme park attraction. But to not contact Diane Kruger, even in the early days of discussing a sequel in a franchise she helped propel to stardom? That seems downright cold, and akin to the sort of decision making that gave us The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor. As Rachel Weisz’s character was recast for the third crack at the similarly beloved franchise co-starring Brendon Fraser, it threw off the chemistry that made the series so brilliant, derailing what was also a promising box office machine.
While this sentiment is speculative, having that happen to National Treasure 3 would have been rather off putting. Despite all of the setbacks that this project has endured, the wheels seem to be turning on this long awaited sequel yet again. With producer Jerry Bruckheimer committing to a National Treasure series on Disney+, as well as a big screen continuation that saw Bad Boys For Life writer Chris Bremner attached to its scripting duties. And yet, while Bruckheimer stated that he intends for the whole gang to be back again, Diane Kruger’s update seems to suggest that recent progress may be in more of a rut than we’ve been led to believe.
You can see Diane Kruger in The 355, which debuts only in theaters this weekend. And if you’re feeling nostalgic for both of the previous National Treasure adventures, you can revisit those thrilling capers on Disney+. For further endeavors into the future of cinema, head over to the 2022 release schedule for a peek at what’s arriving at a theater near you.