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National Treasure Director Explains Why Disney Killed The Profitable Franchise

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To the outside observer, the decisions of Hollywood studios can be unclear and even downright perplexing. The National Treasure franchise is a perfect example. After the original grossed an impressive $347 million worldwide and the sequel (National Treasure: Book of Secrets) did even better ($457 million), the franchise came to an end—for no apparent reason. While some have speculated that growing salaries got in the way of a green-light for part three, director Jon Turteltaub suggests otherwise.

“When National Treasure first got made, there was a lot more money to go around,” he told Collider. “Everybody got paid nicely. The problem with getting the third one made isn’t the people who are getting paid saying, ‘I’m not doing it unless you pay me a lot.’ It’s really that Disney feels they have other films they want to make that they think will make them more money. I think they’re wrong. I think they’re right about the movies they’re making; they’re obviously doing a really good job at making great films. I just think this would be one of them.”

In other words, Disney believes they stand to make more money with Marvel, Star Wars and their other franchises, which is probably related to their enormous merchandising potential—something National Treasure lacks. Unfortunately, that unmade third entry lacks something else: a stellar screenplay. “The script was close, but not so great that the studio couldn’t say no,” Turteltaub explained. “But it’s been good enough that the studio could have said, ‘Yes, keep going. Get closer.’ [Producer] Jerry Bruckheimer is the master of taking something that’s good enough and turning it into something great in about an hour and a half. It’s a little nerve-wracking but it works.”

While it doesn’t look like National Treasure 3 is coming any time soon, you can watch the trailers for the first two instalments below.