Sad news Downton Abbey fans - we won't be spending Christmas with the Crawley family this year after all.
Though the initial announcement of the long-awaited second Downton Abbey feature film came with a theatrical release date of Christmas 2021 attached, it looks like that may have been too ambitious a goal, given that production only officially got underway in mid-June.
Now, according to Variety, the film will no longer hit theaters this holiday season and has been pushed back from its original December 21, 2021 release to a spring debut on March 18, 2022.
Granted, the December release date would have put the Crawleys in the path of some potentially serious box office heavy hitters, such as The Matrix 4 and The King's Man, while its shift to March means its only real competition during its opening weekend is a Zachary Levi drama called The Unbreakable Boy. And though the following weekend marks the opening of inevitable Marvel juggernaut Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness, there's a certain logic to counterprogramming a superhero movie with a popular British period drama.
The entire original Downton ensemble from the 2019 film will be returning, including Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael, Matthew Goode, Allen Leech, Penelope Wilton, and Dame 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. New faces joining the cast for Downton Abbey 2 include Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye, and Dominic West.
The plot of the sequel is still being kept under wraps. The first film centered around a royal visit from the King and Queen of England, offering a perfect reason for the far-flung Crawley clan to reunite at the family estate. It seems likely that some sort of similar precipitating event might be required to bring them all back together again. (Let's just hope it's not the Dowager Countess' funeral. Let Violet live forever!)
Are you looking forward to Downton Abbey 2? Sound off in the comments.