Ben Gates, played by Nicolas Cage, hunts down the President of the United States’ book of secrets in National Treasure: Book of Secrets. This unofficial book holds the solutions to the largest cover-ups in American history. The President of the United States advises Gates to “read Page 47” in addition to his goal of clearing his family’s name. Naturally, the material on Page 47—which many assumed would refer to a potential third movie—is never released. Others dismissed it as little more than a joke.
We all know that even if it was simply a passing joke, it may nonetheless become part of the franchise canon. For instance, the filmmakers Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale never intended for Back to the Future to have a sequel, and the film’s ending, in which Doc Brown arrives from the future in a flying Delorean, was only meant to be a humorous jest. In actuality, the decision to make a sequel wasn’t made until after the movie was a major hit, at which point the “To be continued…” caption was added to the movie’s ending (it was never included in the theatrical print). The creators later said that the first movie’s ending joke put them in a difficult situation for the follow-up.
So, will National Treasure 3 begin on Page 47 or is it simply a cheap joke?
Carlo Bernard and Doug Miro, two screenwriters who Collider spoke with, claimed the following:
“We were asked to start there [when writing the third film], so that is where we’ll start. The plan is to start from what’s on Page 47. The idea of the Book of Secrets is spectacular. It’s a great idea. The second movie sort of introduced it and used it as the center of the movie, so it is smart to make the third movie ‘okay, what treasure hunt will come out of the book of secrets’, which is kind of what the end of the movie started.”
The third movie’s screenplay has been in development by the screenwriting group since June 2009. Cage and director Jon Turteltaub have stated in various interviews that they wanted the story to take place in Europe. What could be on page 47 that would lead someone there? According to Cage, whatever it is must be “life altering.” The internet is plenty of theories, but I don’t think any of them are true.
Hopefully Ben Gates will leave his family behind before embarking on his next journey because, as most people will agree, that was the most frustrating feature of the second movie.