Move over, Bridgerton. The original fictional period-piece romance drama has thrown its hat in the ring to be our date this holiday season. The inevitable sequel to the Downton Abbey movie, entitled Downton Abbey 2, is heading to big screens in time for Christmas.
A big-screen sequel was less a matter of if than when. Much like the TV show, which was a surprise hit when it landed on PBS in 2011, the first Downton Abbey film blew all expectations out of the water. Not only was it the top box office draw for its September opening weekend in 2019, but it brought in beaucoup bucks, with a $237 million worldwide haul. (That's superhero-level money. Then again, Lady Violet's witticisms-on-command could be considered a superpower.) The only thing standing in the way was trying to line up the schedules of all involved.
But for once, the coronavirus pandemic was good for something. The sheer amount of delays and cancellations cleared the decks faster than things might have otherwise, and filming began almost immediately once the U.K. lifted lockdown 3.
As before, the entire original cast has been reassembled for the film, including Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Allen Leech, Matthew Goode, Harry Hadden-Paton, Penelope Wilton and Maggie Smith upstairs and Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan, Brendan Coyle, Joanne Froggatt, Rob James-Collier, Kevin Doyle, Raquel Cassidy, Michael Fox, Sophie McShera, and Lesley Nicol downstairs. No word if Imelda Staunton will return from the first film, but as she is probably gearing up to play Elizabeth II in the final seasons of The Crown, fans should not be disappointed if she does not.
Not to worry though, this time there's a new bumper crop of guest stars who will join the cast, including Hugh Dancy (Hannibal), Laura Haddock (The Capture), Nathalie Baye (The Return of Martin Guerre), and Dominic West (The Crown). Downton creator Julian Fellowes is back to write the screenplay, with the usual executive producing team of Gareth Neame and Liz Trubridge. Notably, there is a new director on board for this round. Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) will be helming the sequel.
In a statement along with the announcement, Neame said,
"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 reunited with the much beloved characters of Downton Abbey."
Also, there is no word on what the excuse is this time to bring the cast back together. The first film went with a royal visit, based upon an actual historical event where King George V and Queen Mary did a series of visits around the northern part of the country, staying in the houses of various local lords. That being said, the confirmation of Nathalie Baye as part of the cast suggests the earlier rumors of a French connection are correct, though how that will fit into the current drama remains unknown.
Downton Abbey 2 is coming to theaters worldwide in December of 2021.