Movie News: Nic Cage to seek a “National Treasure"

After striking box office gold three times together with “The Rock,” “Con Air” and “Gone In Sixty Seconds,” Nicolas Cage and Jerry Bruckheimer are hoping the river of opportunity has not dried up for their next effort, the action/comedy “National Treasure.” Despite some potential historical inaccuracies, there seems to be little doubt this modern-day Indiana Jones will thrill audiences worldwide when it opens in November 2004.

Cage will star as Ben Franklin Gates, an archaeologist and adventurer looking for the legendary lost treasure of the Templar Knights, spurred on by the stories he was told as a young man by his grandfather, John Adams Gates, twenty years before. John tells Ben the secret hiding place for the treasure is encoded on the back of the Declaration of Independence, placed there by none other than the founders of the United States of America, George Washington, Thomas Jefferson, and Benjamin Franklin. Ben’s father, Patrick Henry Gates, is more than well aware that treasure hunting has been the curse of the Gates family, and has soured on the entire idea. With the help of his best friend and partner in crime, a sarcastic, thrill seeking computer expert named Riley Poole, Riley and his team careen from one grave predicament to another.

As an adult, Ben is contacted by Ian Howe, a rich British adventurer who also dreams of finding the lost treasure. When Ben learns Howe’s intentions for the treasure are less than the best, Ben comes into contact with Dr. Abigail Chase, a pretty and young researcher involved in the preservation and display of the Declaration of Independence. At first, Abigail is skeptical of Ben and his wild stories. But when Howe and his henchmen break into the National Archives, Abigail starts to believe. Taking the Declaration to Ben, Abigail becomes a partner in this crazy scheme, as they try to outwit Howe, as well as a team of FBI Special Agents, lead by Agent Sadusky, charged with getting the Declaration back.

Additional characters will include Shaw, Howe’s well-built, not so bright right hand man; Powell, Howe’s tough goon who follows orders implicitly; Shippen, another of Howe’s henchmen, the strong and silent type; Dr. Stanley Herbert, Abigail’s boss at the National Archives, Woodruff, the tough but sensitive head guard at the National Archives; and Agents Dawes, Johnson and Colfax, all assisting Sadusky in the search for the missing Declaration of Independence.

The potential historical inaccuracies come from the mention of the Templar Knights. The Knights, a monastic military order formed in 1118, at the end of the First Crusade, with the mandate of protecting Christian pilgrims on route to the Holy Land, were all but extinct by 1314, when the last Grand Master of the Knights Templar, Jacques de Molay, was burned at the stake, by the order of France’s king, Philip IV. If the story revolves around a treasure belonging to a 14th Century European order, how did those treasures end up in America 460 years laterr Hopefully, the screenwriters have a perfectly acceptable explanation.

Shooting is scheduled to begin in Washington DC, New York City and Los Angeles beginning this August, under the director of Jon Turteltaub, whose previous work includes “While You Were Sleeping” and “Phenomenon.”

”National Treasure” Scorecard
Director: Jon Turteltaub
Writers: Jim Kouf, Cormack Wibberley, Maryanne Wibberley
Producers: Jerry Bruckheimer, Jon Turteltaub
Executive Producers: Oren Aviv, Chad Oman, Charles Segars, Mike Stenson, Christina Steinberg, Barry Waldman
Casting Director: Avy Kaufman
Production Start Date: Mid August, 2003
Shooting Locations: Washington, D.C., New York, Los Angeles
Screenplay Draft Date: April 9, 2003