The original National Treasure film centers on the Gates family legend of a fantastic treasure trove of artifacts and gold, hidden by the Founding Fathers of the United States, and the attempts by the scion of the family, Benjamin Franklin Gates, to find the treasure before his ex-friend, Ian Howe (Sean Bean), steals and destroys the Declaration of Independence.
In the sequel to the original 2004 film, black market dealer Mitch Wilkinson (Ed Harris) locates one of the 18 missing pages of John Wilkes Booth's diary, and suggests that Ben's ancestor, Thomas Gates, was a conspirator in the assassination of President Abraham Lincoln, so Ben sets out to prove his innocence by kidnapping the current US President (Bruce Greenwood) and by finding the disappeared hidden truth.
National Treasure 3
In December 2007, before the second film was released, Nicolas Cage showed interest in doing a third film, believing it should be more international. In early 2008, Disney registered the domains for NationalTreasure3DVD.com and NationalTreasure4DVD.com.(both sites are now unregistered and the second link redirects) In May 2008, Director Jon Turteltaub said that the filmmaking team would take its time on another National Treasure sequel. In September 2008, Jerry Bruckheimer officially confirmed that they were in the process of developing a third film. In November 2008, Bruckheimer said that the writers were in the process of writing the script to the film. In March 2009, Jon Voight, who plays Patrick Gates, said that the script was not yet finished, and was also quoted as saying "I just hope there's good stuff for me to play in it, that Helen Mirren, (who plays his ex-wife) will be back." Disney had planned to begin filming in late 2010, after Justin Bartha had finished The Hangover: Part II, but no announcements have been made as to whether or not filming took place.
In May 2010, Bruckheimer said that the first draft of the screenplay was completed. In a February 2012 interview with Nicolas Cage, Cage stated: "...I have not heard any news about a third one at this time, and it would be interesting to take National Treasure into South America." In a May 2013 interview with Justin Bartha, Bartha stated that a third installment was still a possibility and that scripts have been written.
There was no novelization of the first movie, but a novelization of the second entitled National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets The Junior Novel was released on November 6, 2007. Parts of the story in the novel version differ slightly from what was actually filmed, owing to changes being made in the screenplay prior to and during production. For example, in the novel, Ben and Abigail photograph the wooden plank found hidden in the Queen's desk and leave it behind, with the car chase following, but in the movie, they take the plank with them on the chase. Also, the date on the statue in Paris, which is also the combination to access the plank is shown as 1865 rather than 1876.
Gates Family Mystery
Disney Press has also published a series of spin-off historical novels about ancestors of the Gates Family, all by Catherine Hapka.
November 6, 2007
The epilogue from Changing Tides is included at the back of the National Treasure book. Samuel Gates and his brother, William, travel to the Americas and the newly organized Jamestown, hoping to find a fortune and rescue their family name.
March 8, 2008
At the onset of the Revolutionary War in Boston in 1775, John Raleigh Gates follows the clues to find an incredible treasure.
August 26, 2008
After the American Revolutionary War, Adam Benjamin Gates and his twin sister, Eleanor or Ellie, have heard their father's tales of his part in the Revolutionary War and his discovery of a great treasure that helped the Patriots. Soon, Adam and Ellie find themselves on a dangerous journey into uncharted lands in search of a treasure hidden deep within the wilderness.
December 23, 2008
Thomas Gates is convinced that the treasure is located with someone or in something called the Charlotte. However, his youngest brother James Madison Gates wants a treasure that is easier to get to. In 1848, while helping a friend on the run from her father, he reluctantly follows a series of letters his aunt, Eleanor, sent to his father, believing it leads to a treasure that is bigger than the gold of California.
Was to be released on April 28, 2009, never released
After the death of his father, Charles Gates considers running away from his family's past of treasure hunting. However, when he befriends a freed slave named Daniel, they set off to uncover what civil rights leaders fought to protect. It was never released to the public and is not available for reading.
Was to be released on August 25, 2009, never released
Jay Gates wishes to remain in peace and quiet, despite the economic boom of the 1920s. However, he soon learns of hints in regards to the Charlotte, for which his family had been searching for almost a century, and decides to seek adventure. It was never released to the public and is not available for reading.
Benjamin Franklin "Ben" Gates (portrayed by Nicolas Cage) is the protagonist of the films. Ben has heard stories about the Templar Treasure from his grandfather ever since he was a young child, and decides to hunt for it himself. Along with Ian Howe and Riley Poole, Ben discovers the Charlotte, which leads him to the next clue in the treasure hunt. After being betrayed by Ian, he sets out against him to steal the Declaration of Independence. As the search progresses, Ben meets and eventually falls in love with Abigail Chase. He argues with his father who doesn't believe in the treasure, after 20 thankless years of seeking it himself. However, Ben is successful in discovering the treasure. In National Treasure: Book of Secrets, his family name is threatened by Mitch Wilkinson, and he finds himself hunting for the legendary City of Gold. He and Abigail have broken up, but are reunited during the treasure hunt. During this journey, Ben has to kidnap the President of the United States (Bruce Greenwood) to find a clue in the President's Book of Secrets. Ben is skilled at code-breaking, and has degrees in American History (from Georgetown University) and Mechanical Engineering (from MIT) as well as being an ROTC-commissioned Navy Diving Officer. Ben is portrayed by Hunter Gomez in the beginning of the first film.
Riley Poole (portrayed by Justin Bartha) is the best friend of Ben Gates, and co-finder of both the Templar Treasure and the City of Gold. Ben and his financier Ian Howe find Riley working in a cubicle. He comes along on the journey to find the Charlotte, using his computer expertise to assist his friends. He writes a book about the Templar Treasure and other myths, and this book becomes a key to helping find the City of Gold in the second film. He begins having financial trouble in the second movie, and his Ferrari is impounded by the IRS while he is autographing copies of his book at a local store. However, his car is returned to him after the discovery of the City of Gold. In both films he is portrayed as the comic relief of the group, and regularly replies with sarcastic jokes. He is very excited when he finally knows something Ben doesn't.
Abigail Chase (portrayed by Diane Kruger) is a German American employee at the National Archives in Washington, D.C., and the girlfriend of Benjamin Gates. The two meet during Ben's hunt for the Templar Treasure, when Ben comes to warn the Archives of Ian Howe's plan to steal the Declaration of Independence. When Abigail is brought into the hunt, she is at first against helping, attempting to escape with the Declaration. However, she begins to trust Ben, and the two quickly fall in love. She plays a large role in finding the treasure, and at the end of the first film she and Ben have moved in together. In the beginning of the second film, she and Ben have split up, and she is dating Connor, a curator at the White House. She is out on a date with Connor when Ben attempts to steal her ID Pass for the Library of Congress to view a page from the diary of John Wilkes Booth. She and Ben argue, but when she learns of Ben's mission to find the Lost City of Gold, she decides to rejoin him and Riley in the treasure hunting. They begin to make up over the course of the film, and are soon a couple again.
Patrick Henry Gates (portrayed by Jon Voight) is the father of Benjamin Gates, named for Patrick Henry. He doesn't believe in the treasures at first, thinking that the clues will just lead to other clues, not the treasure at all. It is revealed that he searched for the treasure himself for 20 years and never found it, so he came to believe that the treasure was a hoax. He thinks it's a waste of time to search for the treasure and he is dismayed when he discovers that Ben stole the Declaration of Independence. He is taken hostage by Ian and is present when they discover the treasure. In Book of Secrets, Patrick is angered by Mitch Wilkinson when he comes forward with a Booth diary page that seems to show that Thomas Gates was involved in the death of President Lincoln. He then becomes discouraged by the fact that they have no "proof" that Wilkinson is lying. When Ben and Riley are in London, Patrick is attacked by the Wilkinsons, who clone his cell phone to get access to Ben's progress. In this film, Patrick is reunited with his ex-wife, Emily Appleton. The two have to team up to save their son, and it appears that they are back together by the film's end. The two met on a treasure hunt of their own and the treasure hunt for Cibola seems to cause them to remember their love for each other and finally reconcile. Patrick is named as one of the co-finders of the City of Gold.
Agent Peter Sadusky (portrayed by Harvey Keitel) is an FBI agent who first meets the treasure-hunters when he is assigned to the case after the Declaration of Independence is stolen. He looks for Ben throughout the night before finally finding him and taking him into custody in Philadelphia. Ben escapes him in New York, but Sadusky returns to retrieve the Declaration. He seems to not believe the story of the treasure at first, but actually seems to know it quite well, when it is shown that he is a Freemason. Sadusky arrests Ian Howe at the end of the film. In Book of Secrets, he is introduced when some of his agents come forth with a newspaper article about the Booth diary page. He is suspicious of Wilkinson, and begins to put the pieces together. Later, he is on Ben's case again when Gates 'kidnaps' the President of the United States. He also shows he knows more than he lets on about things: he confirms the Book of Secrets' existence to Ben, but claims not to know its location. After learning that Ben kidnapped the President, he apparently guesses what it was for and heads straight to the Library of Congress, revealing that he somehow apparently knew the location all along. He follows him to Mount Rushmore, only to lose him until after the discovery of Cibola.
Ian Howe (portrayed by Sean Bean) is Ben's ex-partner and ex-financier, and the main antagonist in the first film. He comes along with Ben and Riley to the Arctic to search for the Charlotte. Ian and Ben have a brief face-off, after Ian becomes disappointed that Ben doesn't want to help steal and run chemical tests on the Declaration of Independence with him, and the faceoff ends with the ship exploding. Ian and one of accompanying men escape the ship before the explosion, and, probably assuming Ben and Riley are dead, drive off. The night of the 70th anniversary gala at the National Archives, Ian and his men break in, only to find that Ben has beaten them to the Declaration. (Ben stole it to protect it from Ian, fearing that Ian would not treat it with respect and may even destroy the document). Ian and his men then follow him out of the building and a car chase ensues. Ian then goes to Philadelphia, where he chases Abigail and Riley and ends up stealing the Declaration from them. After Ben is arrested by the FBI, Ian ends up helping him escape from custody, and then meets him at Trinity Church in New York City. He follows Ben down into the tunnels beneath the church, where one of his men dies after falling through the rotting floorboards. The group ends up at a dead end, and Patrick makes up a clue about a lantern and it leads to the Old North Church in Boston, and it holds the Templar Treasure. Ian eventually leaves, deserting the others. Ian is finally apprehended in Boston, while attempting to break into the church, where he is arrested on charges of kidnapping, attempted murder and trespassing on government property.
Mitch Wilkinson (portrayed by Ed Harris) is the main antagonist of the second film. Wilkinson first appears when Ben and Patrick are giving a speech, showing a page from the diary of John Wilkes Booth, which has the name Thomas Gates written on it. He says he believes it means that Gates was a conspirator in the Lincoln assassination. Wilkinson is a direct descendant of the Confederate General (and Freemason) Albert Pike and has a letter from the Queen to Pike that gives a clue to Cibola. Wilkinson and his brothers keep close tabs on Ben and his friends as they search for the clues. He overhears Ben mentioning the Statue of Liberty to Abigail in a phone conversation, and ends up going to New York City, only to find that it's the wrong statue. Before this, though, Mitch and his brothers break into Patrick's home and clone his cell phone, using this advantage to keep track of Ben and listen in on his conversations with his father. He and his two brothers follow the treasure hunters to London, where he chases them and obtains the plank from the Resolute desk at Buckingham Palace. Wilkinson then returns to the United States, where he learns that Ben's mother, Emily, is able to translate the Native American planks. He goes to her and then kidnaps her after she translates the plank, taking her to Mount Rushmore, where they meet with the rest of the group. They all venture into the caves below the mountain, and Wilkinson threatens to kill people to keep them going. His true motives are revealed: he wanted his family to finally gain some fame for discovering something and smeared Thomas Gates' name to get Ben involved in the treasure hunt, although he would later apologize to Ben after they found the City of Gold and when Thomas Gates's innocence is proven. Eventually, as a cave is filling with water, Mitch allows Ben and the others to escape and drowns in the flooded City of Gold. Initially he forced Ben to stay behind so he could live, but he stays instead and his last request is that Ben give him credit for the discovery. Despite having died, Mitch is given partial credit for the discovery of the treasure at Ben's insistence.
Emily Appleton Gates (portrayed by Helen Mirren) is the mother of Ben Gates and ex-wife of Patrick. She is a professor at the University of Maryland, and she has an extensive knowledge of Native American history. She met Patrick during a treasure hunt, but their differences caused them to break up and not speak for 32 years. When Patrick arrives, she is less than pleased to see him. She translates the plank that Ben and his friends find at Buckingham Palace, which leads them to find the other half of the plank. Patrick is sent to have her translate it, though Mitch Wilkinson gets to her first, forcing her to lie to Patrick before she is kidnapped. Patrick tries to clear the air a bit between them, but she blows him off to protect him, although she slips in a clue about what's really going on that he and Ben decipher. At Mount Rushmore, she and Patrick are separated from the others in the cave, and it begins to be apparent that Patrick and Emily have fallen in love again.
Thomas Gates (portrayed by Jason Earles in the first film and Joel Gretsch in the second film) is the father of Charles Carroll Gates. Thomas appeared in both films. Thomas lived around Washington, D.C. In 1832, Charles Carroll told Thomas the story of the Templar Treasure and gave him the last remaining clue to finding it: "the secret lies with Charlotte." In 1848, Thomas was still trying to figure out the clue that had been given to him. At this time, his brother James follows a series of letters their aunt sent to their father, believing it leads to a treasure bigger than the gold of California. Thomas became known for his ability to solve puzzles. Just five days after the end of the Civil War, he is confronted by John Wilkes Booth and another member of the K.G.C. They present to him a cipher, and he immediately begins to decode it. Booth leaves and proceeds with his plans to assassinate Lincoln. Soon after, Thomas soon learns that the men who approached him were members of the K.G.C., and he stops decoding the cipher. The man takes a gun out and urges him to continue deciphering the code. Suddenly, news of Lincoln's assassination is heard and the people in the bar are forced to exit. The man continues to urge Thomas to finish deciphering the code. When the man is distracted by the sound of a window breaking, Thomas rips out the page containing the cipher and throws it into the fireplace, trying to burn it. The man, realizing what had happened, shoots Thomas and retrieves what remains of the page and then escapes. Thomas is left dying there, with his son Charles. His last words to Charles are "the debt that all men pay..."
John Adams Gates (portrayed by Christopher Plummer in the first film) is Patrick's father. He is the one who explains the treasure to his grandson Ben.
Charles Carroll Gates is the son of Thomas Gates. He witnessed his father's murder on April 14, 1865, and recounted the story to his grandson, Patrick Gates, who used this information to help figure out the location of a treasure. Charles is the main character in the novel, Forever Free, where he befriends a freed slave.
Adam Benjamin Gates is the son of John Raleigh Gates. He, along with his sister Rebecca, are the main characters in the novel, Westward Bound, which takes place in 1803.
John Raleigh Gates is the main character in the novel, Midnight Ride. He lived during the time of the American Revolution.
The tree below shows the Gates family, including Ben's ancestors mentioned in the series of novels based on the movies, Changing Tides, Midnight Ride, and Uncharted. A detailed family tree is presented in the novel, Uncharted. Benjamin Franklin Gates' direct line is in bold.
Benjamin Gates 1568-1621
Alice Gates 1571-1630
Mary Willis 1593-1642
William Gates 1591-1645
Samuel Thomas Gates 1594-1661
Elizabeth Martin 1595-1661
George Gates 1615-1679
Maureen Burns 1620-1679
Alice Gates 1617-1642
Benjamin Gates 1615-1660
Elizabeth White 1620-1641
John Gates 1618-1654
Victoria Wall 1620-1650
Seamus Gates 1641-1647
John Patrick Gates 1640-1691
Alice Porter 1639-1697
Edward James Gates 1635-1685
Mary Dunleavy 1637-1675
Martha Gates 1657-1662
Charlotte Sweeny 1726-1753
Thomas Samuel Gates 1722-1805
Constance White 1722-1760
Mary Gates 1748-1806
Elizabeth Gates 1750-1816
Sarah Gates 1752-1781
Alice Gates 1755-1821
Mercy Gates 1760-1786
Humility Gates 1760-1809
John Raleigh Gates 1757-1830
May Dunrick 1757-1824
George Gates 1785-1847
Adam Benjamin Gates 1786-1851
Eleanor "Ellie" Gates 1786-1855
Timothy Gates 1788-1832
Hallowell Gates 1790-1844
Edward b. 1791
William "Will" Gates
Eleanor "El" Gates
Thomas Gates d. 1865
William "Will" Gates
Samuel "Sam" Gates
James Monroe Gates b. 1824
Charles Carroll Gates b. 1856
John Adams Gates
Patrick Henry Gates
Benjamin "Ben" Franklin Gates b. 1964
Awards and nominations
The following is a table listing the awards and nominations received by National Treasure and National Treasure: Book of Secrets.