Treasure hunting movies have been coming out for decades. There are plenty of options out there, but it can be difficult to tell which ones are worth your time. While some critically acclaimed films are excellent, you cannot always base your judgment on popularity. So, which treasure hunting movies are the best?
Continue reading to learn about the 25 best treasure hunting movies. The most enjoyable takes vary from action to adventure to comedy. Though they may not always include pirates digging on an island for an actual treasure chest, the following gems are a must-watch for lovers of treasure hunting movies.
25 Of The Best Treasure Hunting Movies Of All Time
1. Indiana Jones And The Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)
One of the main intentions of Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark was to pay tribute to earlier adventure movies. When Steven Spielberg directed the first Indiana Jones movie, he may not have planned on the success that it had. Now, Harrison Ford’s character is one of the most well-known adventurers of all time.
In an attempt to prevent Adolf Hitler’s Third Reich from gaining the power to wipe out entire armies, Indy must find the Ark of the Covenant before they do. Traversing through South America, Nepal, and Egypt, it is up to Indy and his small group of acquaintances to successfully stop the Nazis. What follows is a beautifully creative piece that sets up the character of Indiana Jones for years to come.
2. Pirates Of The Caribbean: The Curse Of The Black Pearl (2003)
Johnny Depp’s role as Captain Jack Sparrow could not have been performed more perfectly in the Pirates of the Caribbean series. Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl was Depp’s debut as the troublemaking pirate. Although it contains some of the violence of traditional pirate films, The Curse of the Black Pearl has its fair share of lighthearted comedy to fuel the enjoyment of the movie.
In search of Elizabeth Swan (Keira Knightly), the governor’s daughter, Jack Sparrow teams up with Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) to fight against Captain Barbossa and Sparrow’s old crewmates. Without knowing exactly why the pirates want Ms. Swan, the savvy Jack and suspicious Will go on a quest full of inconvenience, conflict, and escape. It is not until they come face-to-face with Barbossa and his crew that they realize the seriousness of the situation.
3. The Goonies (1985)
The Goonies is one of the most popular classics of all time. Any kid growing up between the 80s to the 2010s has likely enjoyed the mischievous group of children in their search for treasure. This entertaining, kid-friendly movie is filled with the action and adventure that comes with any quest for treasure. Stars such as Sean Astin (Mikey), Josh Brolin (Brand), and Kerri Green (Andy) earned praise early on in their careers for the performance.
When Mikey and his friends find a treasure map in Mikey’s attic, they wonder if the legend of “One-Eyed” Willy’s hidden treasure is real. Deciding to find out for themselves presents trials and tribulations that the kids might never have expected. The race against other marauders, booby traps, and more tests the kids’ determination.
4. Time Bandits (1981)
Time Bandits takes a bit of an educational spin on treasure hunting. The movie features a star-studded cast, including Craig Warnock, Sean Connery, Shelly Duvall, Ian Holm, Peter Vaughan, Warwick Davis, and so many more. This film is great for adults and children alike looking to watch an adventure movie from the past.
When Kevin (Craig Warnock) watches a group of dwarves come out of his closet one night, he is in for a surprise. What follows is their travels through time in search of treasure throughout history. They must complete their adventures before being caught by the Supreme Being.
5. The Da Vinci Code (2006)
Directed by Ron Howard, The Da Vinci Code follows the story written by Dan Brown. Robert Langdon (Tom Hanks) and Sophie Neveu (Audrey Tautou) star in the thrilling, mysterious movie alongside Ian McKellen, Paul Bettany, Alfred Molina, and more.
When a murder in Paris’ Louvre Museum sparks panic, Sophie calls Robert to help her investigate the crime. The two must face some disturbing truths in finding out what has happened; hidden, 2,000-year-old truths that could expose Christianity. With evidence of symbols, secret societies, and the Holy Grail, viewers must pay careful attention to understand the mystery of The Da Vinci Code.
6. The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (1966)
As one of the most famous actors of all time, Clint Eastwood (Blondie) stars in The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly. This classic Spaghetti Western is sure to entice the imagination of viewers of all ages. It brings viewers back to the roots of an old-fashioned treasure hunt.
When Blondie and Tuco (Eli Wallach) fall out, they are forced to work reunite when they come across information regarding gold buried in a cemetery. Angel Eyes (Lee Van Cleef) joins them shortly after, creating a trifecta conflict that explores a struggle between fate. Who will find the gold, and what will happen when it is all over?
7. The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug (2013)
One of the more modern treasure hunting movies, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug is the second of the trilogy prequel to the Lord of the Rings trilogy. Martin Freeman, Ian McKellen, Luke Evans, and Richard Armitage are just a few members of the star-studded cast.
In a more complex treasure hunt than usual, the dwarves rely on Bilbo Baggins (Freeman) to lead them to reclaim their homeland. Without much help from Gandalf the Grey, Bilbo must keep his own secrets while trying to save himself and the dwarves. They prepare to meet Smaug the dragon to get back what is rightfully theirs.
8. The Mummy (1999)
The Mummy is perhaps director Steven Sommer’s most successful movie. Rachel Weisz (Evelyn Carnahan), Brendan Fraser (Richard O’Connell), and John Hannah (Jonathan Carnahan) take on the adventure role excellently. This terrifyingly thrilling movie is great for those who love suspense mixed with action.
In the 1920s, Evelyn and Rick excavate a site in the Sahara Desert that inevitably leads them to the most extreme danger. Treasure hunters accidentally free the soul of a 3,000-year-old Egyptian priest. The Mummy now plans to wreak havoc on his surroundings and unleash as much fury as it takes to find his long-lost love.
9. The Adventures Of Tintin (2011)
The animated film, The Adventures of Tintin, presents an action-packed, lighthearted take on treasure hunting. This movie is a must-watch for a family movie night. Jamie Bell, Daniel Craig, Andy Serkis, and Peter Jackson are a few names you might recognize from the cast.
When Tintin buys a cheap model ship at the market, he is immediately ambushed by characters trying to steal the ship from him. He soon comes to find that inside the model are clues to hidden treasure. He takes it upon himself to join forces with available resources and figure out the mess behind all of the mystery.
10. National Treasure (2004)
If you have heard of Nicolas Cage, chances are that you are familiar with his role in National Treasure. This movie combines complex investigating with treasure hunting to create a modern take on finding something extremely valuable. It is a go-to for treasure hunting movie lovers.
Ben Gates works alongside Ian Howe to uncover secrets of the United States. When Ben finds out more about his explorations, he pairs up with Abigail Chase and Riley Poole to race against Howe in search of the treasure of the Declaration of Independence. This creative movie intertwines American history with a shocking discovery that tests Gates’s abilities to find out the truth.
11. It’s A Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World (1963)
It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World is one of the most famous treasure hunting movies of all time. Some of the most well-known faces in earlier cinema, including Jonathan Winters, Ethel Merman, Mickey Rooney, Don Knotts, Buddy Hackett, and more formulate the action-comedy of It’s a Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World.
After a fatal car crash, a group of motorists hears the dying words of a driver. He reveals that he has hidden treasure in a secluded location. When the motorists learn of this, it is only a matter of time before they are scrambling to beat each other to the fortune. This movie is a must-watch for lovers of a classic adventure comedy.
12. Indiana Jones And The Last Crusade (1989)
The third of the Indiana Jones series, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade brings back Indy’s instinct for adventure. Harrison Ford is all too notable for his excellent performances as Indiana Jones. Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade further praises his abilities.
When Indy learns that his father, Henry Jones, Sr. (Sean Connery), has gone missing during his search for the Holy Grail, it is up to him to figure out what is going on. With the help of Elsa Schneider (Alison Dooly), Indy must face obstacles to find his dad. Little does he know that he is not the only one on the trail.
13. Three Kings (1999)
Three Kings combines modern struggles with holding onto hidden treasure. It is a great movie for those who enjoy militaristic aspects paired with adventure. George Clooney, Mark Wahlberg, Ice Cube, and Spike Jonze pair up to create a suspenseful movie full of life-changing decisions. If they do not make the right choice, their fates could be forced out of their own hands.
After the Gulf War, four soldiers, Archie Gates, Troy Barlow, Chief Elgin, and Conrad Vig find themselves in possession of some of Saddam Hussein’s hidden gold. When one of the soldiers does not escape, the three rescued by rebels must decide how to get him back. Before they can figure out how to do so, however, they must work for the Iraqi rebels in dispelling Hussein’s Elite Guard from Kuwait.
14. Cutthroat Island (1995)
Cutthroat Island builds off of the tropes of traditional treasure hunting movies. Though it is not entirely recent, the more modern take on pirates and pirate maps is brought to life by Geena Davis, Frank Langella, Matthew Modine, and more. Cutthroat Island is full of the classic suspense seen in older treasure hunting movies.
Morgan Adams’s father dies, leaving her with a huge inheritance. When seeing her father’s scalp, she finds herself in possession of one-third of a treasure map. The only problem is that the other two-thirds of the map are located on each of her father’s brothers’ heads. In search of her bloodline, Adams faces danger and several obstacles in an attempt to gain the treasure. Family ties mean nothing when something priceless is buried beneath.
15. DuckTales The Movie: Treasure Of The Lost Lamp (1990)
Perhaps the most kid-friendly treasure hunting movie of them all, DuckTales the Movie: Treasure of the Lost Lamp is an exciting watch. If you have children or are simply looking for some lighthearted entertainment for yourself, throw this treasure hunting movie into the mix of your family movie night.
Huey, Dewey, and Louie embark on a journey with their uncle, Scrooge McDuck, to find a magical lamp within the Egyptian Pyramids. Of course, not all goes according to plan when Merlock the wizard shows up in an attempt to find the lamp for himself. It is up to the mischievous ducks and their uncle to outsmart the wizard and find the treasure for themselves.
16. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001)
Lara Croft ( Angelina Jolie) stars in Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, a spinoff of a video game series. This treasure hunting movie is one of the most well-known with a singular female protagonist. Gerard Butler, Daniel Craig, Noah Taylor, and Jon Voight are a few more notable names featured in the movie. Lara Croft: Tomb Raider is well known amongst the treasure hunting community and is a must-watch for those having yet to see it.
Lara Croft goes on a quest in search of artifacts that will inevitably save the world from its own demise. Unfortunately for her, she may not be able to complete the task entirely alone. Forced to work with arch nemeses, Lara has to find what she is looking for in order to stop time from changing its direction.
17. Treasure Of The Sierra Madre (1948)
Humphrey Bogart, Tim Holt, and Walter Huston star in Treasure of the Sierra Madre. As one of the first treasure hunting movies ever made, Treasure in the Sierra Madre set the tone for what was to be expected of these action-packed adventure films. However, it also utilizes other cinematic aspects to keep viewers engaged.
Dobbs and Curtin join forces with the experience of Howard in search of gold within the Sierra Madre mountains in Mexico. Upon finding the treasure, they expect to have to protect it at all costs. However, what may be more pressing is their relationships with themselves and one another. Will they be able to resist petty conflict and come out triumphant with the gold?
18. Treasure Island (1950)
Disney took on the role of creating a movie out of Robert Louis Stevenson’s classic, Treasure Island. Treasure Island, the movie features Jackie Cooper, Wallace Beery, Otto Kruger, and Nigel Bruce in a race for buried treasure. Treasure Island is another classic treasure hunting movie filled with tropes of pirates, battles, and adventure.
Jim Hawkins embarks on a journey with Squire Trelawney and Doctor Livesey upon the Hispaniola after finding Billy Bones’ treasure map. When they get to the mysterious island they have been sailing for, it is no surprise that they are not the only ones looking for the hidden treasure. Long John Silver and his crew do not plan on letting the measly group beat them to the prize. The group of three must figure out how to outsmart and defeat Long John Silver before having a chance at the hidden treasure.
19. Sinbad: Legend Of The Seven Seas (2003)
The DreamWorks animation film is full of kid-friendly, suspenseful action. In Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas, a nonchalant protagonist conflict with a stowaway to complete a required task in order to save a best friend. Sinbad, the main character, must struggle with himself and the obstacles around him to save the day.
The Goddess of Chaos, Eris, frames Sinbad and says that he stole the Book of Peace. The consequences of this event ultimately lead to the threat of Sinbad’s best friend, Prince Proteus, being executed. Instead of immediately going to look for the Book of Peace, Sinbad falters and decides to forget it. Little does he know that Marina tagged along when he set sail, determined to encourage Sinbad to choose what is right.
20. Romancing The Stone (1984)
Romancing the Stone features Kathleen Turner and Michael Douglas in this adventure treasure hunt. While they are not searching for the traditional hidden treasure found on a pirate map, the stakes are even higher. Romancing the Stone involves a heart-driven expedition in search of one of the most precious treasures of all: family.
Joan Wilder discovers that her sister has been taken captive by criminals who want the treasure map in her possession. She embarks on a search in Colombia, joined by Jack Colton, to find her sister. As a writer, Wilder realizes that the journey she is on is much like the stories she creates.
21. Atlantis: The Lost Empire (2001)
Atlantis: The Lost Empire is yet another great treasure hunting movie for all ages. Although, rather than searching for a chest of gold, the characters seek the lost, underground city of Atlantis. This action-packed, lighthearted movie is sure to entice all lovers of treasure hunting movies.
Believing that the legend of Atlantis is legitimate, Milo Thatch takes an opportunity to look for it. Unfortunately, there are not many supporters to help him. When a mysterious woman decided to aid him, Milo takes a crew to find Atlantis. He encounters a number of unbelievable obstacles in search of the beautiful, mysterious city.
22. The Jungle Book (1994)
The Jungle Book is very popular as a cinematic success. Mowgli could not have been cast better, with Jason Scott Lee emanating the dynamic of the character. The movie entertains adults and viewers alike as a boy must trust the animals around him to help him survive.
After Mowgli’s father is killed by a tiger, the orphan finds himself living amongst the animals of the jungle. As he grows older, he reunites with his childhood friend, Kitty, only to find out that her partner, Captain Boone, is attempting to steal the hidden treasures within the jungle. It is up to Mowgli to protect the secrets within, especially Monkey City, a hidden gem of treasure in the jungle.
23. Monty Python And The Holy Grail (1975)
Monty Python and the Holy Grail is a hilarious adaptation of the story of King Arthur. While it does have treasure hunting tropes, what makes it so enjoyable is the sophisticated, edgy comedy in every scene. The satirically educational film is a true classic. Graham Chapman, Terry Gilliam, John Cleese, and other members of Monty Python coke together to create the cinematic masterpiece.
King Arthur sets off to find a group of knights to help him in his search of the Holy Grail. Along the way, trials and tribulations either prevent or help the knights on their quest. The Black Knight, a house of virgins, and a killer rabbit are just a few of the obstacles that stand in their path.
24. Treasure Planet (2002)
A remake of the older Treasure Island, Treasure Planet is an animated film telling the story of Jim Hawkins and his search for hidden treasure. Unlike the former movie, Treasure Planet is more fantastical and includes imaginative aspects great for a kid-friendly movie.
Rather than reflecting the original book or movie, Treasure Planet shows Jim Hawkins’s adventure in a much different setting. He must travel through outer space to find the hidden Treasure Planet. It is up to the troublemaking teenager to find what he is looking for.
25. The Road To El Dorado (2000)
The Road to El Dorado tells the exciting story of two con-men looking to capitalize on their mischief. The lighthearted film is yet another kid-friendly treasure hunting movie. If you love treasure hunting movies and are in search of more animated pieces, The Road to El Dorado is a great place to start.
Miguel and Tulio find a map to El Dorado, a mythical city full of gold. While it is full of comical adventure, obstacles to overcome, and enjoyable aspects, the movie becomes serious as the two must decide whether or not to follow their moral code.
Best Treasure Hunting Movies Final Thoughts
There are plenty of treasure hunting movies out there, but you may not know which ones are the best. Any of the select films above are excellent choices if you are looking for a treasure-hunting movie. From action to comedy to adventure, you are sure to find what you are looking for.
If you have any questions or comments please leave them below. Until next time Happy Movie Watching!
Cory Haasnoot is an author, entrepreneur, metal detecting enthusiast, antique, coin collector, and founder of Treasure Seekr.