It was stated in the first film's commentary that there were no plans for a sequel, but due to the first film's impressive box-office performance (earning $347.5 million worldwide), a sequel was given the go-ahead in 2005.
The film premiered in New York City on December 13, 2007, and was released in North America by Walt Disney Pictures on December 21, 2007.
On April 15, 1865, five days after the end of the Civil War, John Wilkes Booth and Michael O'Laughlen enter a tavern in Washington DC and approach Thomas Gates to decode a message in Booth's diary. Thomas recognizes the message as using the Playfair cipher and begins to translate it. While he does so, Booth leaves for Ford's Theatre and assassinates President Abraham Lincoln. Thomas solves the puzzle and realizes the men are members of the Knights of the Golden Circle and are Confederate sympathizers. A fight breaks out, and Thomas rips several pages from the diary and throws them in the fireplace. Thomas is shot, and the gunman retrieves only a page fragment.
More than 140 years later, Thomas's great-great grandson Ben Gates delivers a lecture on the story at a Civilian Heroes conference. Black market antiquities dealer, Mitch Wilkinson, shows one of the 18 missing pages of John Wilkes Booth's diary, with Thomas Gates' name written on it, convincing everyone that Thomas was not only a conspirator, but also the grand architect of the Lincoln assassination. Ben sets out to prove the innocence of Thomas.
Using spectral imaging, Ben, his estranged girlfriend Abigail Chase, and friend Riley Poole discover a cipher pointing to Édouard Laboulaye, hidden on the back of the diary page. Ben and Riley travel to Paris, where they find a clue engraved on the torch of the scale model of the Statue of Liberty, referring to the two Resolute desks. One of the desks is used by the President at the Oval Office in Washington, while the other is used by the Queen in Buckingham Palace in London.
Ben and Riley then head to London to infiltrate the Palace and Abigail shows up, unannounced. From the Queen's desk, he obtains an ancient wooden plank. Meanwhile, Wilkinson has broken into Patrick Gates' house and cloned Patrick's cell phone to track Ben's whereabouts. Wilkinson eventually obtains the wooden plank, but not before Ben manages to photograph the symbols carved into the plank.
At Ben's insistence, Patrick reluctantly asks his ex-wife and Ben's mother, Dr. Emily Appleton, for help in translating the symbols. She does so, but points out that some of the glyphs are partial, leading Ben to conclude that another plank must be hidden in the other Resolute desk at the White House.
Ben and Abigail coax Abigail's new love interest, Connor, a curator for the White House, into letting them into the office to see the desk. Ben discovers that the second plank is missing, but he does find a stamp bearing the seal of the "President's Secret Book". Riley tells Ben that the Book of Secrets contains documents collected "by Presidents, for Presidents' eyes only", covering such controversial subjects as the JFK assassination, Watergate, and Area 51.
Ben crashes the President's birthday party at Mount Vernon to convince the President to follow him into a secret tunnel under the House, where he confronts him about the book. The President warns Ben that his actions will be interpreted as an attempt to kidnap the President and Ben is now wanted for committing a federal offense. Ben convinces the President to reveal the location of the book, which is at the Library of Congress.
In the book, Ben finds a picture of the missing plank from the desk and an entry by President Coolidge, who found the plank in 1924, had it destroyed, and commissioned Gutzon Borglum to carve Mount Rushmore to erase the map's landmarks in order to protect the treasure. However, FBI Agent Sadusky tracks Ben to the Library and the three narrowly escape capture.
Ben, Riley, Abigail, and Patrick then head to Mount Rushmore, where they meet Mitch, who has kidnapped Ben's mother, Emily. Mitch helps them find the entrance of a cave, containing the legendary Native American city of gold, Cíbola. Once inside, they encounter several traps and everyone gets separated. Eventually, they find the city of solid gold underneath Mount Rushmore and it begins flooding with water. In order to get out alive, one person has to stay behind to hold open the door to the tunnel. After a struggle and Ben's attempt to sacrifice himself, Mitch ends up staying behind and asking Ben to give him the credit for finding the treasure.
Ben clears his family's name with the discovery and is cleared of all charges when the President, in an attempt to protect Ben, tells everyone that Ben saved his life. Ben also ensures Mitch receives joint credit for the find. At the end, the President mentions the favor he asked of Ben when he gave him the location of the Book, implying that a third movie would be forthcoming.Nicolas Cage as Benjamin Franklin "Ben" Gates
Justin Bartha as Riley Poole, Ben's best friend
Diane Kruger as Dr. Abigail Chase, Ben's colleague and girlfriend
Jon Voight as Patrick Henry Gates, Ben's father who is divorced from his wife Emily.
Helen Mirren as Dr. Emily Appleton-Gates, Ben's mother who is divorced from her husband, Patrick.
Ed Harris as Mitch Wilkinson, a black market dealer, and Ben's nemesis
Harvey Keitel as FBI Special Agent Sadusky
Armando Riesco as FBI Special Agent Hendricks
Alicia Coppola as FBI Special Agent Spellman
Albert Hall as Dr. Nichols
Bruce Greenwood as President of the United States
Ty Burrell as Connor, Abigail's new boyfriend who works at the White House
Randy Travis makes a cameo appearance, playing himself. Small supporting parts are played by Joel Gretsch and Billy Unger as Gates' ancestors Thomas Gates and Charles Carroll Gates; Christian Camargo as John Wilkes Booth; and Zachary Gordon as a boy who gets into a heated argument with Gates over a Lincoln conspiracy.
Many scenes of historic locations were filmed on location, including the scenes at Mount Vernon and Mount Rushmore. Filming at Mount Rushmore took longer than initially scheduled, due to inclement weather and the decision to change the setting of additional scenes to the area around Mount Rushmore to take advantage of Black Hills backdrop.
The soundtrack to National Treasure: Book of Secrets was released on December 18, 2007.
National Treasure: Book of Secrets received mixed reviews from critics. Rotten Tomatoes gave the film a rating of 35%, based on 125 reviews, with an average rating of 4.8/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "A talented cast goes to waste in the improbable National Treasure: Book of Secrets, which is eerily similar to the first film." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 48 out of 100, based on 26 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".
British film critics disputed the implication of British support for the Confederate side in the American Civil War. The film earned two Razzie Award nominations including Worst Actor for Nicolas Cage (also for Ghost Rider and Next) and Worst Supporting Actor for Jon Voight (also for Bratz: The Movie, September Dawn and Transformers), but lost both categories to Eddie Murphy for Norbit.
The film was nominated for Best Movie at 2008 MTV Movie Awards, but lost to Transformers.
National Treasure: Book of Secrets grossed $220 million in North America and $237.4 million in other territories for a total gross of $457.4 million, against a budget of $130 million. It took 38 days to outgross the first film ($347.5 million).
In its opening weekend, the film grossed $44.8 million, finishing in first at the box office. It remained in first at the box office for two more weeks, grossing $35.7 million and $20.1 million, respectively, until it was dethroned by The Bucket List ($19.4 million).
Disney Press published an official novelization of the screenplay titled National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets The Junior Novel on November 6, 2007. Parts of the story in the novel version differ slightly from what was actually filmed, owing to changes being made in the screenplay prior to and during production. For example, in the novel, Ben and Abigail photograph the wooden plank found hidden in the Queen's desk and leave it behind, with the car chase following. But in the movie, they take the plank with them on the chase.
Also published on the same day as the official novelization was a companion youth novel Changing Tides: A Gates Family Mystery by Catherine Hapka. Its story is set in England in the year 1612 and is the first in a series of planned historical novels about the Gates family. The epilogue from Changing Tides is included at the back of the National Treasure book. The second youth novel by Hapka, Midnight Ride: A Gates Family Mystery, was published on March 8, 2008.
National Treasure: Book of Secrets was released on DVD, UMD, and Blu-ray Disc on May 20, 2008 (June 2, 2008 in the UK). In the opening weekend, 3,178,631 DVD units were sold, bringing in $50,826,310 in revenue. As of August 2009, 5,873,640 DVD units have been sold, generating revenue of $93,132,076. This does not include Blu-ray Disc sales or DVD rentals.
The film has been retitled National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets for all three releases. The film's official website has also been changed accordingly.
A special edition, called the "National Treasure Presidential Edition", contains National Treasure and National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets inside a letter book which is a replica of the Presidents' secret book from National Treasure 2: Book of Secrets.
Director Jon Turteltaub said that the team will take their time on a second National Treasure sequel, but Disney has already registered the domains for NationalTreasure3DVD.com and NationalTreasure4DVD.com. Though the second film ended with the question about page 47 of the President's book of secrets, Turteltaub responded in a press interview that the idea was not set in stone as the basis for National Treasure 3.
In October 2013, Turteltaub confirmed to Collider that the studio, himself, producer Jerry Bruckheimer and the actors all want to do the third film: "We want to do the movie, Disney wants to do the movie. We're just having the damnedest time writing it. I'll bet that within two years, we'll be shooting that movie. I'd say we're about half-way there. It's not only writing a great historical mystery, but we've gotta write something that has nothing to do with anything we've done before. The goal is to always have an original sequel, as silly as that sounds. We really want to make sure that the third one doesn’t just feel like a repeat of the first one, or one too many".