News Column

Franchise unpacks its magic for a London romp

July 27, 2014

By Bryan Alexander, @bryalexand, USA TODAY

The Night at the Museum stars will come to life one more time.

Night at the Museum: Secret of the Tomb(due out Dec. 19) is the third and final bow of the successful comedic franchise centered on museum exhibits that come alive after hours, and guard Larry Daley (Ben Stiller).

This time the museum wonders travel to the British Museum and out to London streets.

"We have brought museums to life, but we have never really explored the idea of taking the magic into the world," director Shawn Levy says. "This movie really goes beyond the museum walls."

The action starts at New York'sAmerican Museum of Natural History, where the vibrant exhibits were discovered after closing time in 2006's Night at the Museum. (The 2009 Night at the Museum: Battle of the Smithsonian took place in Washington, D.C.)

But the source of the life-giving magic, a golden tablet, begins to corrode, forcing international action. Larry and museum exhibits including Pharaoh Ahkmenrah (Rami Malek), Teddy Roosevelt (Robin Williams), Attila the Hun (Patrick Gallagher), Sacajawea (Mizuo Peck), Roman centurion Octavius (Steve Coogan) and Jedediah (Owen Wilson) wind up at the British Museum's Egyptian wing to solve the mystery.

Ahkmenrah's father, the tablet's creator, is played by Ben Kingsley. Rebel Wilson is a surprised security guard.

Dan Stevens continues to break away from his Downton Abbey persona (Matthew Crawley) by playing Sir Lancelot under 50 pounds of armor, a performance Levy calls "a comedic revelation."

Stevens enjoyed finding the "silly, larger-than-life" side to Lancelot, riding a horse through Trafalgar Square during a night shoot. "That was a bit bizarre."

He also describes the surreal scene of having late-night conversations next to the Rosetta Stone with Robin Williams during breaks in the filming.

The film also was the final appearance of Mickey Rooney, who shot scenes with fellow guards Dick Van Dyke and Bill Cobbs.

"I didn't know it was to be his last film, but it was a truly memorable shoot," Levy says. Rooney died April 6 at age 93.

This will be Levy and Stiller's last museum trek; the first two made nearly $1 billion worldwide at the box office. "These remain the most successful movies Ben and I have ever done," Levy says. "Ultimately, in some ways, this is about saying goodbye to a franchise which has been career-defining for both of us."

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Source: USA Today

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