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When Downton Abbey went off the air in 2016, fans of the period drama held out hope that the series finale wasn't the last they'd see of the Crawley family, and the many footmen, maids, and members of the kitchen staff who worked for them.
In 2019, that daydream was realized with a film featuring everyone from Lady Mary and Henry Talbot to Mrs. Patmore and Daisy. The movie's plot revolves around a royal visit to the stately country home, and all the preparation that entails. But it won't be the end of the Downton Abbey universe.
In April 2021, Focus Features confirmed it will be in theaters this Christmas. “After a very challenging year with so many of us separated from family and friends, it is a huge comfort to think that better times are ahead and that next Christmas we will be re-united with the much beloved characters of Downton Abbey,” Gareth Neame, the film’s producer said in a statement. But then, in July of 2021, the premiere date was pushed to March 18, 2022, and in January 2022, it was bumped once again. Now the film will open in theaters on April 29 in the U.K. and May 20 in the U.S.
In the meantime, here is the film's first trailer, which teases a wedding for Branson, and perhaps the story of an affair from the Dowager Countess (who will appear in the movie):
And here is the second trailer, which reveals that a movie will be filmed at Downton:
Here's what else we know so far:
It will be called Downton Abbey: A New Era.
The official name for the film was announced in August. See the first photos from the new film here:
There will be a few new faces in the cast.
Per Focus Features, "The original principal cast will all once again return for the second film," and there will be new characters as well. Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye, and Dominic West will all join the cast.
In 2019, Downton Abbey producer Gareth Neame confirmed a sequel was in the works.
"We're working on what the story is, and when we might be able to make it. But it's the same as the first time around: We have to try to get everyone back together again. And that was very challenging," he told The Hollywood Reporter in November 2019.
As always, it will be difficult to get the entire ensemble cast back together; many, many schedules will need to align. "The challenge will be, is everyone available at the same time? Can we make deals with them? That will be the challenge," he said.
In a separate interview with Variety, he reiterated that the Downton sequel might not happen for a while. “Julian is doing a lot of rewrites [on his new HBO show The Gilded Age], and he said: ‘It may delay me thinking further about this “Downton” endeavor.’ I said: ‘I like to think you have two shifts going on, a day shift and night shift, and the TV work can happen during the day and the writing on the “Downton” script at night.'”
It's filming now. Phyllis Logan aka Mrs. Hughes confirmed the news in a recent TV interview. Watch that conversation below:
Jim Carter says the script is "funny."
"If you promise not to tell anyone, I’ll let you know that we’ve seen a script… The script for a second film is there. We’ve seen it, it’s very funny!" he said in an interview with a British talk show last year. "It’s got all the same characters in, all the regular characters, and I think the will is – COVID willing – we’ll film it next year. "
In March 2021, he later shared that he is "hopeful that we'll start filming soon." "I'd love to tell you when [exactly] we'll start filming but with the virus and travel restrictions and work restrictions, we haven't got a 100 % green light yet."
He has also confirmed that his wife, actress Imelda Staunton, will reprise her role of Maud Bagshaw in the new movie.
Hugh Bonneville was "desperate" to do the film.
“It’s the usual thing. The planets are circling. They are beginning to get into alignment,” Bonneville said. “There is a thing called coronavirus knocking around and until that is under control in a sensible way, we are not going to be able to get all those ducks in a row. Mixing my metaphors here.”
“But there is certainly the intention to do it. We would love to do it, we are desperate to do it, and I think it’s the sort of pleasurable release of a movie like the first one was, that audiences would enjoy after all of this mess we have been through,” he continued.
Maggie Smith will make an appearance.
Without spoiling too much, the end of the first film seemed to suggest that Smith was finished playing her iconic character, the Dowager Countess. But the first trailer proves she will return to Downton. Previously, Neame said there was a chance that audiences could see her reprise her role once more.
"All I would say is that one of the things that's been commented on over the years about Downton is that we've had plenty of medical misdiagnoses," he said.
Fellowes also suggested that Smith could return for the second film.
"We should remember that at the end of the film, Maggie was by no means dead," he said. "You imagine Violet is on her way out, but that decision hasn't been reached."
And the second film announcement did note that "all" original Downton cast members were returning.
The Downton Abbey film's writer and director started saying there was "potential" for a sequel even before the first movie came out.
And writer Julian Fellowes agreed that the idea was plausible.
“For me now to say, ‘Absolutely, definitely this is it, there will never be another film,’ I would just be foolish. Because you end up eating your words, you know?" he said. "I mean, I wouldn’t mind making another film. We were very happy making this one. So let’s see what happens.”
Previously, Fellowes had also specifically used the word "possibility" when speaking about a sequel to the Downton Abbey film.
"I haven't killed off half the cast in a Coronation Street style crash so a follow-up is a definite possibility," he said.
We'll keep you posted as soon as we know more.
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