The Disney+ spin-off series “National Treasure: Edge of History” has just released its fourth episode, and with it comes a direct connection with the films – Justin Bartha reprising his role of Riley Poole fifteen years after he last played it in 2007’s “National Treasure: Books of Secrets”.
Poole was the sarcastic right-hand man to Nicolas Cage’s treasure-hunting historian Ben Gates in the two films, and it remains one of Bartha’s signature roles. Whilst there has been discussion of a potential third film for over a decade, it never eventuated.
Then Disney+ came up with this spin-off series focusing on a young group of people seeking a Meso-American treasure. Whilst Cage, Diane Kruger and Jon Voight aren’t returning from the earlier films, Bartha and Harvey Keitel are reprising their roles in the series, with Keitel popping up in the premiere.
Speaking with Variety, Bartha reveals he was initially hesitant to be involved in the series: “To be honest, I didn’t jump aboard right away, but after talking with [the producers] and looking at my daughters, it was tough to turn my back.”
SPOILERS AHEAD FOR THE EPISODE
The episode sees Riley visiting Baton Rouge to attend a funeral – just in time to help the leading group decipher a clue. It also fills in the post-sequel gaps about what’s happened with Riley translating his book into a hit podcast and streaming series.
He says he’s fifteen years into a new treasure hunt with Ben which ties to the cliffhanger left at the end of the second film involving ‘Page 47’. Meanwhile, Ben (Cage) is still with Abigail (Kruger), with whom he shares a dog. Bartha says he was the one that chucked in that nod to the sequel, rather than it being the writers laying the groundwork for the next film:
“The Page 47 reference was something that I threw in there when we were filming. I just had to. But listen, there is still hope for another movie. Nic is obviously doing great. One of the greatest ever. Jerry just had a big hit with ‘Top Gun: Maverick,’ and he is doing great. And the constant drum beat from the fans for a third movie just makes it a no-brainer for me.”
Bruckheimer recently said a script for a third movie, written by Chris Bremner, is finished. Asked if he’s seen the script, Bartha says:
“There is a script. That’s all I’ll say. There have been a few different scripts, actually, but the one thing that has to happen is for all the stars to align. I had seen something a while ago, and it was solid, but the unsung hero of these movies that does not get mentioned as much is Jon Turtletaub. Those movies really are an extension of his being. He is very smart and funny and has a buoyancy to him that mirrors the tone of the movies. I think he has to feel really comfortable and feel like he can see the movie before it happens — and it is getting closer to that.”
Asked if he was ever told what was on Page 47, he says: “Oh, I know it all, but I can’t tell you. You will have to write your local Disney representative and get the movie made to find out.”
The series hails from Cormac and Marianne Wibberley, the writers of the original films, whilst Jon Turtletaub and Jerry Bruckheimer executive produce. It’s currently airing on the Disney+ service.