Disney’s National Treasure movies starring Nicolas Cage were huge hits at the box office, collectively making more than $800 million worldwide across two instalments. However, a third film never materialized, and now producer Jason Reed–who worked at Disney at the time but has since left–explained one of the reasons why.
He told Collider that, simply put, Disney was never able to make National Treasure a bonafide franchise by incorporating it into its parks or selling a significant amount of merchandise.
“I think part of what happened … even though the movies themselves were extremely successful, and had a really strong fanbase; it’s a movie that gets brought up all the time, particularly the first one. Unfortunately, the company was never able to capitalize on it as a franchise,” Reed said.
The National Treasure series never became a franchise, he said. Instead, the 2007 sequel Book of Secrets was seen as a sequel, and a third movie would be a sequel to that instead of the next entry in a franchise per se.
“[National Treasure 1] really operated in the market as a movie with a sequel, and National Treasure 3 would have been another sequel. They never found a way to integrate it into the Parks,” Reed said. “It never caught on … even though there were a lot of consumer products … it never really caught on as an independent franchise. And I think that makes the numbers look different. It makes it look harder to a company like Disney to focus resources on something when they can go make Toy Story or go buy a cruise ship.”
Reed also suggested that Disney didn’t ever get very excited about the prospect of making more National Treasure films in the first place.
“If the company itself had been really excited about moving forward with it and thought that they could blow it out, we would have found a way to make the deals,” he said.
Also in the interview, Reed remarked that it was very special and rare that National Treasure was able to film in the National Archives Building in Washington, D.C. The production team needed to get special approval from the US government for this. It all worked out in the end, Reed said, point out that attendance to the National Archives shot up by 400% after the film came out, and attendance has stayed in this elevated state ever since.
While the National Treasure series may be dormant right now, Disney is reportedly planning a new National Treasure TV show for Disney Plus. Producer Jerry Bruckheimer is involved, and Reed said Bruckheimer is working on not only the TV show, but also a new movie. To sum it up, Reed said he believes National Treasure is “ripe to reinvent.”
Reed is no longer directly employed by Disney, but he continues to work with them. Most recently, Reed produced Disney’s live-action Mulan.