Did ‘National Treasure’ Really Film at Independence Hall?
After being in development for four years with nine writers, the movie National Treasure finally found its way on screens to positive audience reception and mild negative critical acclaim. Still, the National Treasure film and its sequel have remained classics, with their approach to historical accuracy being questionable.
National Treasure was set in Independence Hall but was the movie shot there? Find out.
The film had people asking whether there was an actual secret map
National Treasure follows the life of Benjamin Franklin Gates, who comes from a family of treasure hunters. Growing up, his grandfather used to tell him of the legends of hidden treasures, noting that the Founding Fathers buried treasure somewhere in the country and left clues to it.
Years later, the Gates family has acquired a reputation of myth believers and conspiracy theorists. However, Ben thinks he has found a clue to solving the mystery, and he sets out to find the treasure and preserve it in a national museum. One of the leads has included a map on the back of the Declaration of Independence.
After the films came out, the officials of the National Archives reported that visitors who went there kept asking whether there was a secret map on the back of the Declaration of Independence. One of the officials said, “We get a lot of questions about the filming.”
Another clue Nicolas Cage’s character found was a time stamp on a $100 bill. The timestamp read 2:22 on the clock located on the image of the Independence Hall on the bill. Interestingly this was an aspect of history that the movie got right as bills at the time had illustrations that had the same hours and minutes.
The design changed in 2009 to read 10:30. The Treasury Department has never given any substantial reason why they picked those two specific times, and conspiracy theorists have had plenty of material to work within that regard.
The movie was filmed in an Independence Hall replica set
Getting permission to film on government property can be challenging, and most production teams prefer to work with replicas designed to look like the exact property they were going for. When the National Treasure producers learned that Knott’s Berry Farm owner Walter Knott had created a replica of Independence Hall, they wasted no time.
According to Mental Floss, Knott had built the replica set on his land in California in the ’60s, so production secured permission to use the brick-for-brick property to film the widely successful National Treasure films.
In one of the scenes, Cage’s character Ben runs on the Independence Hall’s roof. Had the producers been granted permission to shoot in the Hall, the scene would have most likely not occurred as the property’s caretakers wouldn’t have approved.
The films boosted attendance and interest in the National Archives
Whenever hit movies film in some locations, those areas almost instantly become tourist destinations. For example, the movie Gone Girl starring Rosamund Pike and Ben Affleck was set in the fictional Carthage, MO. However, the actual filming occurred in Cape Girardeau, MO. Ever since its debut and equivalent success, the town has attracted several visitors who visit the locations they can recognize in the movie.
National Treasure had the same influence with its original and sequel films. After its premiere, many people began visiting the National Archives in Washington D.C. to learn more about the film and its historical accuracy.
Although two films have already been released, the work on the third script has slowed down over the years. Speaking to Entertainment Weekly in 2016, Cage said that fans could still see another installment but admitted that the writing was taking longer as the writers wanted to ensure they provide entertainment while remaining historically accurate.