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The Search For Clues
Behind the non-stop mystery and adventure of NATIONAL TREASURE lies the inspiration of actual historical legends. From real historical rumors about the Knights Templar Treasure to secret codes actually used by America's Founding Fathers to the mystical Masonic symbols that you can find on the U.S. dollar bill, the movie is filled with authentic intrigue.

Bringing this dose of reality to NATIONAL TREASURE's fictional adventures was key for producer Jerry Bruckheimer, who is known for consistently taking action and drama to the next level with each of his films.

"When you make a treasure hunt movie, I think the clues that lead you forward have to be really smart and based on true history, which is what we did with NATIONAL TREASURE,” Bruckheimer says. "We take simple things, like the dollar bill, which is something you use every day but never really look at, and we reveal secrets that are hidden in it. After you see this film, you'll look at the dollar in a whole new way.”

Adds Jon Turteltaub: "While our story is fiction, it constantly incorporates elements of reality. The story's clues emerge from actual historical letters and monuments everyone knows; and the inventions are based on real ideas and things that truly existed. This makes the story even more fun for audiences, as they share in the mystery.”

The story of NATIONAL TREASURE began with an idea from Oren Aviv, who also serves as President of Buena Vista Picture Marketing, and his creative partner, Charles Segars. They initially came up with the concept of a man who is forced to steal the Declaration of Independence when the crucial U.S. document proves to be in dire danger—after it is discovered to contain a secret treasure map.

"It would be one of the most audacious heists ever attempted—and one that we felt could be the basis of a smart, original action-adventure,” says Aviv. Adds Segars: "The more we began to explore the idea, the more exciting it became. We were not only trying to figure how a thief might steal the Declaration of Independence without destroying it, but also more about the treasure map it contained. We began to imagine where the treasure came from, why was it buried, and the ways it had been hidden over the centuries.”

Aviv and Segars brought the idea to director Jon Turteltaub and his producing partner Christina Steinberg at Junction Entertainment. Jon and Christina then hired Jim Kouf to write an original script based on the idea in 1998. Says Steinberg: "It was very exciting to watch the idea of stealing the Declaration of Independence evolve and become an even bigger and more broadly appealing adventure story.”

Meanwhile, Turteltaub's involvement only increased Jerry Bruckheimer's interest in shepherding the project. "Jon Turteltaub is a director we've been trying to work with for a number of years,” notes Bruckheimer. "He's got a great sense of humor and a wonderful human touch, and because we knew this film would rely so much on comedy and fun, I thought he was the perfect individual to direct it.”

The idea quickly caught fire at Bruckheimer Films. "It's been awhile since we've seen a film about a quest for mysterious treasure,” says executive producer Mike Stenson, "and we felt this film really updates the genre by introducing a new breed of treasure hunter—a maverick and romantic hero who has to commit the boldest possible crime in order to do the right thing.”

Screenwriter Jim Kouf began to expand even further on the film's story. "When I met with Jon Turteltaub, he was thrilled by the idea of a guy stealing the Declaration of Independence and the moral dilemmas that would present to the character,” he recalls. "I spent a long time working on the script—9 or 10 months of doing lots of research on the Declaration of Independence and the legends that sur

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