"To preserve the reputation of the Fraternity unsullied must be your constant care."


Monday, November 25, 2019

'National Treasure 3' Rumored: Here We Go Again


The film National Treasure was released 15 years ago this week, and it quickly became the surprise monster box office hit of 2004. So it wouldn't be a proper November without yet another rumor of there finally being a new National Treasure 3 sequel in the works. After the even more successful sequel National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets premiered in 2007, NT3 has been announced in 2010, 2013, 2015, and at least brought up publicly by somebody from the original cast or production team nearly every single year.

Now the We Got This Covered website is reporting that the sequel is once again being worked on. (That website has a pretty good track record of predicting recent developments within Disney's production arm, and has had several major scoops on the subject.) According to the post, Academy Award-winner Nicolas Cage will reprise his role as intrepid historian and cryptologist Benjamin Franklin Gates searching for lost treasure from America's past. No word on the plot, the rest of the cast, writers, or director, and there's some question as to whether it will be released to big screens or go directly to the new Disney+ streaming service. 

While potential scripts for NT3 have been floated about for years with the complaint by a parade of writers that the project is 'really hard' because, you know, real history and stuff, the other problem has been financial. All of the film's stars - Nicholas Cage, John Voight, Diane Kruger, Sean Bean, Harvey Keitel (the movies' kindly 33° Freemason) and Helen Mirren, along with Director Jon Turteltaub — were all signed to long-range, multi-picture contracts. The more NT movies get made, the bigger chunk their salaries cost producer Jerry Bruckheimer on the next one before a single camera gets powered up.

Because the first film revolved around the Founding Fathers who were Freemasons, the movie poster of Nicholas Cage in front of the Great Seal and its All-Seeing Eye of Providence while he snatches the Declaration of Independence became the Masonic equivalent to the Farrah Fawcett in a bathing suit poster so popular among teenage boys back in 1976.  And if that isn’t creepier than a back rub from Grandma, I don’t know what is.

You could argue we're those same boys, just adults now. And yes, I have a lobby card signed by the whole cast and director hanging in my bar. Sue me. Nicholas Cage was briefly my sister's next door neighbor.




National Treasure was deviously designed in 2004 by Jerry Bruckheimer and Disney to capitalize on Dan Brown mania while the world awaited his promised sequel to The Da Vinci Code. But instead of being a minor date movie quickie for the Thanksgiving season, the picture shocked everybody by being immensely popular. Hollywood critics and bigwigs couldn't explain how a movie about a historian, lost Templar treasure, Founding Fathers and the Freemasons could actually make money, but it made a lot of it. Honestly, it prompted my publisher to quickly search for someone who could write their proposed Freemasons For Dummies project because of National Treasure's surprise popularity. So I personally owe a lot to Nicholas Cage and director Jon Turteltaub or their role in turning my life upside down.

(I'm still convinced that National Treasure hijacked ideas Brown was writing into his Da Vinci Code sequel and beat him to the punch, requiring his wife to talk him down off the window ledge and totally rewrite what became The Lost Symbol, further delaying that novel's release until 2009.)

One thing Hollywood is filled with are band wagoneers who are terrified to go first with a new idea, but fall all over themselves in a rush to capitalize on territory someone else staked out ahead of them. Interestingly, this sudden announcement of renewed interest in a National Treasure sequel comes on the heels of NBC/Universal's announcement that they are working on a TV adaptation of none other than Dan Brown's Masonic-themed novel The Lost Symbol, to be entitled Langdon. That would make the irony of the connection between these two projects come full circle and once again set up another competition to see who gets their 'Masonic' project onscreen first. If any or all of this is true, we Masons might start dry cleaning our tuxedos because the phones might soon start ringing again.

The first National Treasure earned $347.5 million worldwide, astonishing the Disney bean-counters. The National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets sequel appeared three years later in 2007, and likewise did phenomenal business — earning a whopping $457.4 million in its initial release — proving the first wasn't an accident, and that American audiences actually liked finding out about their nation's history along with being entertained by an inventive action/adventure plot. They actually liked seeing positive, fun stories about American founders, presidents and achievements that the miserablists have so long despised. And of course, who doesn't like lost treasure tales anyway? 


Masonic symbols were abundant throughout the pre-release hype for NT2:
S&Cs, PM jewels, AASR double eagle, KT cross, even a Shrine symbol.
Unfortunately, we Freemasons were disappointed that the pre-release hype for the sequel was filled with Masonic symbols, but the movie itself really had none, apart from a single mention of Albert Pike - thereby causing all of the AASR-SJ Masons in the audience to momentarily suffer  incontinence in their exuberance. Interestingly, the young adult-pitched novelization of National Treasure: Book of Secrets by author Ann Lloyd featured several references to Freemasonry that were in the shooting script, but never made the final film edit. 

Nevertheless, both pictures still have their enthusiastic Masonic fan base to this day, and most of us look forward to the next installment in the franchise. We'll all still dutifully show up for the premiere again in our Masonic hats and shirts and pray for a few more onscreen hat tips to our fraternity this go round. As long as it's still about early American history and chasing artifacts and tales of the nation's historic luminaries with the occasional reference to Masonic good guys, we'll be there.

After all - chances are we Masons were there when the original events really happened in the first place.

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