A very patriotic heist. The premise of National Treasure — stealing the Declaration of Independence — has become a meme since the film’s 2004 release, but the movie is still beloved for its blend of action and adventure.
Directed by Jon Turteltaub, National Treasure follows treasure hunter and cryptographer Benjamin Franklin Gates (Nicolas Cage), who uncovers a plot to steal the Declaration of Independence. No one at the FBI believes him when he tries to warn the agency of the impending theft, so Benjamin takes it upon himself to protect the historical document by stealing it first.
The movie wasn’t a critical success upon its release — the late Roger Ebert compared its plot to Monty Python script — but it was a hit with audiences. While the filmmakers didn’t initially plan to make a sequel, the film’s box-office numbers encouraged the production of National Treasure: Book of Secrets, which hit theaters in December 2007.
Cage reprised his role as Ben alongside original cast members Diane Kruger, Justin Bartha, Jon Voight and Harvey Keitel as well as franchise newcomers Helen Mirren and Ed Harris. The Face/Off star hadn’t previously done a sequel to any of his movies, but he signed on to Book of Secrets because he felt it would meet his standard of being “at least as good” as the original.
“I wanted to make sure that we could go in a direction that would raise the stakes, and also hopefully be more interesting,” the Oscar winner said of the sequel during a 2007 press conference. “They said, ‘We have to ratchet it up from stealing the Declaration of Independence, so we thought you should kidnap the president of the United States.’ … I got nervous. Then, I started thinking about it, and I started laughing, and I realized that that was the joy of it — that it was funny and it was absurd.”
Fifteen years after the first film’s premiere, a spinoff series titled National Treasure: Edge of History debuted on Disney+. The show features a completely new set of characters led by Jess Valenzuela (Lisette Olivera), a history buff who dreams of cracking codes for the FBI.
“They’ve really taken all those great elements that we loved and that we treasured, and taken them and brought it into the now,” Catherine Zeta-Jones, who plays baddie Jess, told Screen Rant of the show in December 2022. “It’s really incorporating all of the good stuff, and it’s a real family occasion. My niece who’s 8 years old would watch this with my mother, with me and my kids in between. It’s a real roller-coaster. A real fun family show.”
Keep scrolling to see where the cast of National Treasure is now: