National Treasure (film)

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National Treasure
Movie national treasure.JPG
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Jon Turteltaub
Produced by Jerry Bruckheimer
Jon Turteltaub
Screenplay by Jim Kouf
Cormac Wibberley
Marianne Wibberley
Story by Jim Kouf
Oren Aviv
Charles Segars
Starring Nicolas Cage
Harvey Keitel
Jon Voight
Diane Kruger
Sean Bean
Justin Bartha
Christopher Plummer
Music by Trevor Rabin
Cinematography Caleb Deschanel
Edited by William Goldenberg
Walt Disney Pictures
Jerry Bruckheimer Films
Junction Entertainment
Saturn Films
Distributed by Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
Release date
November 19, 2004 (2004-11-19)
Running time
131 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $100 million[1]
Box office $358.5 million

National Treasure is a 2004 American adventure heist film produced and released by Walt Disney Pictures. It was written by Jim Kouf and the Wibberleys, produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and directed by Jon Turteltaub. It is the first film in the National Treasure franchise and stars Nicolas Cage, Harvey Keitel, Jon Voight, Diane Kruger, Sean Bean, Justin Bartha and Christopher Plummer.

Cage plays Benjamin Franklin Gates, a historian and amateur cryptologist searching for a lost treasure of precious metals, jewelry, artwork and other artifacts that was accumulated into a single massive stockpile by looters and warriors over many millennia starting in Ancient Egypt, later rediscovered by warriors who form themselves into the Knights Templar to protect the treasure, eventually hidden by American Freemasons during the American Revolutionary War. A coded map on the back of the Declaration of Independence points to the location of the "national treasure", but Gates is not alone in his quest. Whoever can steal the Declaration and decode it first will find the greatest treasure in history.

A sequel, titled National Treasure: Book of Secrets, was released in December 2007.


Benjamin Franklin Gates is an American historian, amateur cryptologist and the youngest descendant of a long line of treasure hunters. As a child, Ben is discouraged from following the family line by his father, Patrick Henry Gates. Young Ben is driven on by a story told by his grandfather, John Adams Gates. According to John, a clue — the phrase "The secret lies with Charlotte" — was entrusted to the family by Charles Carroll of Carrollton - the last surviving signatory to the Declaration of Independence - in 1832, and will lead to the fabled "national treasure", a wealth of artifacts dating from Ancient Egypt and secretly hidden by the Founding Fathers and the Freemasons during the American Revolutionary War.

Thirty years later, Ben leads an expedition along with Ian Howe, computer expert Riley Poole, and Ian's accomplice Shaw to find the Charlotte, a ship trapped in Arctic ice, which is believed to be referenced in the clue. The group discovers a meerschaum pipe hidden in a barrel of gunpowder in the cargo hold. Ben discovers a clue is engraved on the stem of the pipe, which he concludes indicates the next clue to be on the back of the Declaration of Independence. When Ian suggests they steal the Declaration, a fight ensues, during which spilled gunpowder is ignited. Ian and Shaw escape the ship, trapping Ben and Riley, who escape through a smuggler's hold, mere seconds before the entire ship explodes in a gigantic fireball.

In Washington, D.C., Ben and Riley report Ian's plan to the FBI and to Dr. Abigail Chase at the National Archives, where the Declaration is stored. Their claims are dismissed as stealing the Declaration is considered impossible, and if there had been a secret clue, it would have already been discovered. Ben decides to steal the Declaration at an upcoming gala event before Ian can, despite Riley's attempts to dissuade him. Ben sends Abigail one of George Washington's campaign buttons dipped in invisible ink, enabling him to access her key codes under UV light and enter the preservation room, with Riley disabling the surveillance systems. Ben grabs the Declaration moments before Ian and his men show up and quickly leaves the gala to join Riley outside. Abigail, suspicious of Ben's presence, follows him and retrieves what she believes to be the Declaration. Ian and his men then attempt to kidnap her to get the Declaration, which was really a copy Ben bought with his credit card in the gift shop. Ben and Riley rescue Abigail and are forced to bring her up to speed. Meanwhile, FBI Agent Sadusky, investigating the theft of the Declaration, finds evidence tying Ben to the theft and starts tracking him.

Ben, Riley, and Abigail arrive at Patrick Gate's home. Ben and Abigail test the material the Declaration is written on, finding an Ottendorf cipher written in invisible ink on its back. The encrypted message references the Silence Dogood letters, written by Benjamin Franklin, kept at the Franklin Institute. Ben, Abigail, and Riley travel to Philadelphia and bribe a schoolboy to acquire the key letters in each word, with a message pointing them to the bell tower of Independence Hall where the Liberty Bell was originally located. They find a hidden cache with a pair of spectacles with multiple colored lenses, which, when used to read the back of the Declaration, reveal the clue "Heere at the Wall". They split up when they realize that Ian and his team are following them. Ben is arrested and interrogated by the FBI, while Abigail and Riley lose the Declaration to Ian. Abigail is able to convince Ian to help them rescue Ben, in exchange for the next clue, by meeting at New York City's USS Intrepid museum, where they engineer Ben's escape from the FBI.

When Ben remains coy about the next clue, Ian reveals he has kidnapped Patrick, coercing Ben to identify the clue as a street intersection in New York, near Trinity Church. Inside, they find a passage that leads deep underground, ending in a room lit by a single lantern, which Patrick asserts refers to Paul Revere's Ride, pointing to the Old North Church in Boston. Ian and his men ditch Ben's group and race to Boston, unaware that the clue was fake. Ben opens a secret door, behind which they find a notch which the pipe from the Charlotte fits, opening onto a large chamber containing the national treasure, an immense cache of highly valuable ancient artifacts. Ben contacts Agent Sadusky and learns he is a Freemason. Ben then returns the Declaration and provides the location of the treasure, in exchange for their names being cleared of stealing the Declaration. Ben also informs Sadusky of his bluff on Ian, who along with his men are successfully caught by the FBI.

In the epilogue, Ben and Abigail have now started a relationship, while Riley is somewhat upset that Ben turned down the 10% finder's fee for the treasure for a much smaller amount (1%) that still has netted them all significant wealth.


Additionally, David Dayan Fisher appears as Shaw, Stewart Finlay-McLennan as Powell, Oleg Taktarov as Victor Shippen, and Stephen Pope as Phil McGregor (all four being Ian's henchmen); Annie Parisse, Mark Pellegrino, Armando Riesco, and Erik King play agents Johnson, Dawes, Hendricks, and Colfax, respectively. Jason Earles portrays Thomas Gates.



Early 1999, it was revealed that Jon Turteltaub was developing National Treasure based upon an idea developed by Oren Aviv and Charles Segars two years earlier, with the script penned by Jim Kouf.[3] By 2001, the project was relocated to Touchstone Pictures.[4]

In May 2003, Nicolas Cage was cast as lead in the film.[5] New drafts were written by nine scribers, including Cormac and Marianne Wibberley,[5] E. Max Frye and Jon Turteltaub.[6] By October, Sean Bean was cast.[2]

Filming locations[edit]

Film set for the underground chambers beneath Trinity Church

National Treasure was filmed primarily in Washington, New York, Philadelphia and Utah. Most scenes were filmed on location, with the exceptions of the Independence Hall scene, which was filmed at the replica of Independence Hall at Knott's Berry Farm, and the Arctic scene, which was filmed in Utah.[7]


Critical reception[edit]

National Treasure received mixed reviews from critics, some of whom lauded it as a fun, straightforward family adventure, while others ridiculed its numerous implausibilities and unbelievable plot twists. On Rotten Tomatoes, the film has a rating of 44%, based on 169 reviews, with an average rating of 5.3/10. The site's consensus reads, "National Treasure is no treasure, but it's a fun ride for those who can forgive its highly improbable plot."[8] On Metacritic, the film has a score of 39 out of 100, based on 35 critics, indicating "generally unfavorable reviews".[9]

Roger Ebert gave the film 2/4 stars, calling it "so silly that the Monty Python version could use the same screenplay, line for line."[10] Academic David Bordwell has expressed a liking for the film, placing it in the tradition of 1950s Disney children's adventure movies,[11] and using it as the basis for an essay on scene transitions in classical Hollywood cinema.[12]

Box office[edit]

National Treasure grossed $173 million in the United States and Canada, and $185.5 million in other territories, for a total of $358.5 million against a $100 million budget.

In its opening weekend the film grossed $35.1 million, finishing in 1st place at the box office, beating out fellow newcomer The SpongeBob SquarePants Movie ($32 million).[13]

In Japan National Treasure beat out the double-billing MegaMan NT Warrior: Program of Light and Dark and Duel Masters. : Curse of the Deathphoenix by grossing $11,666,763 in its first week. It remained number one for three weeks.

Home video releases[edit]

Collector's Edition DVD[edit]

A special collector's edition, two-disc DVD set of the movie was released on December 18, 2007.

Blu-ray Disc[edit]

Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment released Blu-ray Disc versions of National Treasure and its sequel, National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, on May 20, 2008.[14]


National Treasure (Original Score)
National Treasure Soundtrack.jpg
Film score by Trevor Rabin
Released November 16, 2004
Recorded 2004
Genre Stage & screen
Length 38:45
Label Hollywood
Producer Trevor Rabin
Professional ratings
Review scores
Source Rating
AllMusic 3/5 stars[15]

All tracks written by Trevor Rabin.

No. Title Length
1. "National Treasure Suite" 3:17
2. "Ben" 4:03
3. "Finding Charlotte" 1:04
4. "Library of Congress" 2:27
5. "Preparation Montage" 4:53
6. "Arrival at National Archives" 1:54
7. "The Chase" 4:22
8. "Declaration of Independence" 1:43
9. "Foot Chase" 3:34
10. "Spectacle Discovery" 3:18
11. "Interrogation" 4:30
12. "Treasure" 3:39


National Treasure: Book of Secrets[edit]

Although the DVD commentary stated that there were no plans for a sequel, the film's box office gross of an unexpected $347.5 million worldwide warranted a second film, which was given the green light in 2005. National Treasure: Book of Secrets, on the DVD as National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets, was released on December 21, 2007.

National Treasure 3[edit]

Director Jon Turteltaub said that the filmmaking team will take its time on another National Treasure sequel,[16] but Disney has already registered the domains for and[17] Though the second film ended with the question about page 47 of the President's book of secrets, the new movie may or may not be a sequel about the "Page 47". Turteltaub responded in a press interview that the idea was not set in stone as the basis for National Treasure 3.[18]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Box office statistics for National Treasure (2004), Box Office Mojo, retrieved April 10, 2007 .
  2. ^ a b Feiwell, Jill; Harris, Dana (October 13, 2003). "Sean Bean". Variety. Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  3. ^ Cox, Dan; Carver, Benedict (February 22, 1999). "'Treasure' found". Variety. Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  4. ^ Fleming, Michael (July 31, 2001). "Helmer digs for 'Treasure'". Variety. Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  5. ^ a b Fleming, Michael (May 27, 2003). "Cage unearths 'Treasure'". Variety. Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  6. ^ The Wibberley's (April 9, 2003). "National Treasure Draft" (PDF). Patriot Resource. Archived from the original on October 5, 2016. Retrieved October 5, 2016. 
  7. ^ "Locations for National Treasure". Internet Movie Database. Retrieved March 2, 2013. 
  8. ^ "National Treasure". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 2012-11-23. 
  9. ^ "National Treasure". Metacritic. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  10. ^ Ebert, Roger. "National Treasure". Chicago Sun-Times. 
  11. ^ Bordwell, David (5 January 2008). "Your trash, my Treasure". Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  12. ^ Bordwell, David (January 2008). "The Hook: Scene Transitions in Classical Cinema". Retrieved 30 January 2010. 
  13. ^ "National Treasure". BoxOfficeMojo. Retrieved 2015-05-23. 
  14. ^ "Walt Disney Studios Home Entertainment Announces the Disney Blu-Ray Title Wave Coming 2008". High-Def Digest. August 17, 2007. Retrieved 2007-09-27. 
  15. ^ Unterberger, Richie. "Trevor Rabin, National Treasure (Original Score)". Retrieved December 10, 2015. 
  16. ^ Kirkland, Bruce (2008-05-30). "'National Treasure 3' in works". Jam!. CA: Canoe. 
  17. ^ Sciretta, Peter (2008-02-01). "Disney Plans For National Treasure 3 &". SlashFilm. 
  18. ^ "National Treasure 3: Page 47". Hits USA. 2007-12-22. 

External links[edit]