In 1938 Egypt, a team of archaeologists discover the tomb of pharaoh Ahkmenrah, including a young Cecil Fredericks, finding the magical Tablet of Ahkmenrah. The locals warn the group that removing the tablet will end its magic.
In present day New York City, Larry Daley remains the night guard of the American Museum of Natural History. He and the exhibits, brought to life each night by the tablet, help re-open the Hayden Planetarium. A new wax Neanderthal resembling Larry named Laaa is introduced, identifying Larry as his father. Ahkmenrah shows Larry that the tablet is corroding, which later causes the exhibits to act erratically, causing mayhem at the planetarium’s reopening. Afterwards, Larry catches his son Nick throwing a house party, who plans on taking a gap year to sort out his life.
Larry reunites with Cecil, now in retirement, who realises the end of the tablet’s magic will cause the exhibits to become lifeless. Cecil explains Ahkmenrah’s parents, Merenkahre and Shepseheret, may be able to restore the tablet’s power, but are located in the British Museum. Larry convinces the museum’s curator, Dr. McPhee, to let him ship Ahkmenrah to London to restore the tablet, convinced that McPhee knows its secrets. Larry and Nick travel to the British Museum, bypassing the night guard Tilly. To Larry’s surprise, Theodore Roosevelt, Sacagawea, Attila the Hun, Jedediah, Octavius, Dexter the capuchin monkey, and Laaa have come as well. Laaa is left to stand guard while the others search the museum, the tablet bringing its own exhibits to life.
They are joined by a wax Sir Lancelot who helps them fight off the aggressive museum exhibits like a Xiangliu statue and a Triceratops skeleton. Jedediah and Octavius fall through a ventilation shaft, but are rescued from an erupting Pompeii model by Dexter. The group find Ahkmenrah’s parents, learning the tablet’s power can be regenerated by moonlight, since it is empowered with the magic of Khonsu. Lancelot mistakes the tablet for the Holy Grail and steals it, leaving to find Camelot. Larry and Laaa are locked in the employee break room by Tilly but escape, Laaa remaining behind to distract Tilly, but they become attracted to each other.
Lancelot crashes a performance of the Camelot musical, starring Hugh Jackman and Alice Eve as King Arthur and Queen Guinevere, but Larry and the others chase him to the theatre roof, where the New York exhibits begin to die. Lancelot then sees that the quest was about them and gives the tablet back. The moonlight restores the tablet’s power, saving the exhibits. They decide that Ahkmenrah and the tablet should stay with his parents, even if it means the New York exhibits will no longer come to life. Back in New York, Larry spends some final moments with his friends before sunrise.
Three years later, Larry now works as a teacher, and a travelling British Museum exhibit comes to New York. Tilly becomes the new night guard, and gives the tablet to Dr. McPhee, showing him its power, and allowing the exhibits to awaken again. Outside, Larry watches them party inside.Ben Stiller as Larry Daley, a security guard at the American Museum of Natural History.Stiller also plays Laaa, a Neanderthal who resembles Larry.
Robin Williams as Theodore Roosevelt, the wax statue of the 26th President of the United States.
Owen Wilson as Jedediah, a cowboy diorama miniature.
Steve Coogan as Octavius, a Roman soldier miniature.
Ricky Gervais as Dr. McPhee, the director of the Museum of Natural History.
Rachael Harris as Madeline Phelps, the chairwoman of the American Museum of Natural History.
Dan Stevens as Sir Lancelot, the wax statue of the legendary Knight of the Round Table.
Rebel Wilson as Tilly, the night security guard at the British Museum.
Skyler Gisondo as Nick Daley, the son of Larry Daley. He was previously played by Jake Cherry in the first two films.
Rami Malek as Ahkmenrah, the mummy of an ancient pharaoh.
Patrick Gallagher as Attila the Hun, the statue of the leader of the Huns.
Mizuo Peck as Sacagawea, the polyurethane model of the Lemhi Shoshone woman who is Theodore Roosevelt's girlfriend.
Ben Kingsley as Merenkahre, the mummy of an ancient pharaoh and Ahkmenrah's father.
Dick Van Dyke as Cecil "C.J." Fredericks, a retired security guard from the first film.Percy Hynes White plays the younger Cecil "C.J." Fredericks
Mickey Rooney as Gus, a retired security guard from the first film.
Bill Cobbs as Reginald, a retired security guard from the first film.
Andrea Martin as Rose, an archivist at the Museum of Natural History.
Brennan Elliott as Robert Fredericks, C.J.'s father in the prologue.
Matt Frewer as Archibald Stanley, an archeologist who accompanies Robert and Cecil in the prologue.
Anjali Jay as Shepseheret, the mummy of a Great Royal Wife of Merenkahre and mother of Ahkmenrah.
Crystal the Monkey as Dexter, a Capuchin monkey.
Hugh Jackman as Himself (uncredited)
Alice Eve as Herself (uncredited)
Robin Williams as Garuda Artifact.
Brad Garrett as Easter Island Head.
Regina Taufen as New York Reporter.
On January 21, 2010, co-writer Thomas Lennon said to Access Hollywood, "I think it's a really outstanding idea to do Night at the Museum 3, in fact. I wonder if someone's not even already working on a script for that. I cannot confirm that for a fact, but I cannot deny it for a fact either... It might be in the works." In an October 2011 interview with The Hollywood Reporter, Stiller confirmed the sequel, however, he said that it was only in the "ideas stage". In February 2013 it was announced that the film, directed by Shawn Levy, would be released on December 25, 2014. On September 10, 2013, it was announced that shooting would start in February 2014.
On November 8, 2013, actor Dan Stevens was cast as Lancelot. On November 15, 2013, it was announced that Skyler Gisondo would be replacing Jake Cherry in the role of Nicky Daley. On December 18, 2013, it was announced that Stiller, Robin Williams, and Ricky Gervais would be returning for the sequel. On January 9, 2014, it was announced that Rebel Wilson would play a security guard in the British Museum. On January 14, 2014, the film's release date was moved up from December 25, 2014, to December 19, 2014. On January 23, 2014, it was announced Ben Kingsley would play an Egyptian Pharaoh at the British Museum. Principal photography and production began on January 27, 2014. On May 6, 2014, it was announced that the film would be titled Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb. In May 2014, principal photography ended.
Alan Silvestri returns to score the final installment of the trilogy.
Varese Sarabande released a soundtrack album of the score on January 6, 2015.
All tracks written by Alan Silvestri.
The film premiered at the Ziegfeld Theatre in New York City on December 11, 2014. It was then released on December 19, 2014 in the United States.
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb grossed $113.7 million in North America, and $249.5 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $363.2 million against a budget of $127 million.
In North America, early analysts were predicting a potential $25–$28 million opening. In North America, the film was released on December 19, 2014 across 3,785 theaters. It opened Friday, December 19, 2014 and earned $5.6 million on its opening day, placing at number three at the box office. The film underperformed expectations during its opening weekend, earning $17.1 million, which was relatively lower than the openings of the original film ($30.4 million) and its sequel ($54.1 million). The film debuted at number two at the box office behind The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. According to 20th Century Fox, the movie's audience was 51% male, with 54% of the audience under the age of 25. In CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, cinema audiences gave the film an average grade of "B+", on an A+ to F scale.
The film began its international rollout the same weekend as the North American premiere and earned $10.4 million from 27 markets in its opening weekend, debuting at #3 behind at the box office behind The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies and Penguins of Madagascar. The film expanded to an additional 40 markets in its second week and grossed $31.2 million. It topped the box office outside North America in its fourth weekend with a total gross of $46.2 million, primarily because of China, where it opened at #1 with $26 million. The other highest opening figures were from Mexico ($5.85 million), Brazil ($3.1 million), Malaysia ($3.07 million), the UK ($3 million), Australia ($2.8 million), Germany ($2.1 million) and Singapore ($2 million).
For the weekend of January 16, 2015, the film grossed $17.8 million, which includes a $3.9 million debut in South Korea.
On Rotten Tomatoes, the film received a 48% approval rating, based on 104 reviews, with an average score of 5/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "While not without its moments, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is a less-than-inspired sendoff for the trilogy." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 47 out of 100, based on 33 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews". In CinemaScore polls conducted during the opening weekend, cinema audiences gave the film an average grade of "B+" on an A+ to F scale.
Scott Foundas of Variety gave the film a positive review, praising the visual effects and calling the production values "topnotch", and admiring Guillermo Navarro's work. He added, "A most enjoyable capper to director Shawn Levy and producer Chris Columbus’ cheerfully silly and sneakily smart family-entertainment juggernaut... offers little in the way of secrets of surprises, but should add much holiday cheer to Fox’s box-office coffers." Peter Bradshaw of The Guardian gave the film three stars out of five and said, "The third part in what absolutely no one is calling the Night at the Museum 'trilogy' turns out to be a good-natured and entertainingly surreal panto fantasy." Glenn Kenny awarded the film 2½ stars out of 4 praising the Indiana Jones themed-set while criticizing the performances of the cast and said, "As talent-packed as any Night at the Museum picture may be—in this third installment... —one doesn’t come to a movie of this sort expecting anybody’s best work. Or at least one certainly shouldn’t, because it won’t materialize." Stephanie Zacharek of The Village Voice gave the film a positive review, saying "The third installment, Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb may be the best, and even the generally wound-too-tight Ben Stiller - once again playing a bemused Museum of Natural History guard - is easy to tolerate." Claudia Puig of USA Today gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "Where the previous films felt frenetic and forced, this outing feels breezier, more enjoyable and less contrived." Joe Neumaier of the New York Daily News gave the film three out of five stars, saying "There's a serenity to museum visits, especially if it's a place you know and love. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, amazingly, recaptures that feeling in big-studio franchise form."
Bill Goodykoontz of The Arizona Republic gave the film two out of five stars, saying "Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb is a rather lackluster affair, a cash grab that tries to aim a little higher but confuses sappy shortcuts with real emotion." Joe McGovern of Entertainment Weekly gave the film a B, saying "It's kind of fun, unembarrassingly, and not least of all because the people who made it look like they had a good time doing so." Tom Long of The Detroit News gave the film a B, saying "There are some key elements that make this Night at the Museum sequel work better than its predecessor." Stephen Whitty of the Newark Star-Ledger gave the film two out of four stars, saying "The exhibits in this Night at the Museum may still come to life nightly. But their latest movie stays stubbornly inert." Tom Russo of The Boston Globe gave the film two and a half stars out of four, saying "Seeing Ben Stiller, the late Robin Williams, and their magically roused gang together again, this time in London, is initially all about indulgent, nostalgic smiles rather than new wows. But then comes the movie’s exceptionally clever and fresh final act, which delivers genuine surprise along with many laughs." Robbie Collin of The Daily Telegraph gave the film three out of five stars, saying "The third Night at the Museum film starts strongly, with its heart in the past... It’s an exciting opening, and perhaps too exciting for the film’s own good. It’s hard not to be disappointed when the plot moves back to the present and settles into the time-honoured formula of digitised creatures running riot and famous people in fancy dress doing shtick." Michael Rechtshaffen of The Hollywood Reporter gave the film a negative review, saying "Despite relocating across the pond to the esteemed British Museum, the creaky Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb fails to capitalize on the comic potential provided by that change of venue."
Ignatiy Vishnevetsky of The A.V. Club gave the film a C+, saying "Secret of the Tomb plays it as a source of corny jokes, pop-culture references, and father-son bonding moments. In other words, it’s exactly the kind of film that shouldn’t be expected to engage with its assorted bizarre subtexts — but what a movie it could be if it did." Sara Stewart of the New York Post gave the film two out of four stars, saying "For piquing kids’ interest in history and nature, you could do worse than this goofy Ben Stiller franchise. But its third installment is more meh than manic, too reliant on wide shots of the ragtag Museum of Natural History cohorts striding down corridors. You get the feeling returning director Shawn Levy is ready to hang it up." Richard Roeper of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film one and a half stars out of five, saying "The dialogue is schmaltzy and often painfully unfunny. The special effects are often so 1980s-bad, one wonders if it was a deliberate choice, to make the creepy visuals of sculptures dancing and paintings moving less frightening to young viewers. Time and again, terrific actors sink in the equivalent of cinematic quicksand, helpless against the sucking sound of this movie." Drew Hunt of Slant Magazine gave the film one out of four stars, saying "None of the entries in the Night at the Museum series could ever pass for high art, but a wealth of comedic talent gave the first two installments a madcap energy that somewhat forgave their childish premises. Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb, the third and supposedly final edition in the franchise, is nothing more than an uncomfortably transparent contractual obligation."
Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb was released on Blu-ray and DVD on March 10, 2015. The film debuted in second place on the home media charts behind The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1.