Rumors of a planned Downton Abbey movie have swirled since the series ended its six-season run in 2016, and now it’s finally coming to fruition, with production set to start this summer. The original cast is set to return for the feature film, so Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Laura Carmichael, Brendan Coyle, and others will be reprising their roles (either upstairs or downstairs) at Downton for the upcoming film, the story of which is currently being kept under wraps.
Written and created by Academy Award winner Julian Fellows, the series followed the many ups and downs of the Crawley family and their expansive staff during the first quarter of the twentieth century, taking them through such momumental events as the First World War, the Irish War of Independence, and more, leading up to the eventual decline of the British aristocracy. “The world is changing” was an oft-repeated phrase on the series, though those changes were most often filtered through the lens of those living in and working at the sprawling Yorkshire estate.
The series reached its conclusion with a two-hour Christmas Special that left the Crawleys and those working in the house looking to the future with some sense of optimism. Most notably, Lady Edith (Carmichael) marrying happily, Mary (Dockery) preparing to welcome another child, and Thomas (Robert James-Collier) having made a surprising turn from scheming footman to the respected head of the household staff. Given that conclusion, it’s curious to think what Fellows has planned for the movie, which, as reported by Deadline, the script he's written has producers eager to move forward with the project.
Joining Fellows, and the returning cast, is Brian Percival, the director of several episodes, including the pilot, who also directed the 2013 film The Book Thief. Percival’s return will likely help keep the film from straying too far from the look and feel of the series, even though it’s set to be presented in a different format than how it aired for six seasons. And with production set to begin shortly, it won’t be long before fans are back in Downton, remarking on just how much the world is changing.
Downton Abbey making the jump from TV to feature film with the original cast puts it in the company of shows like Sex and the City, Entourage, The X-Files, and even Twin Peaks. There are plenty more examples, but that sampling shows the risks and rewards of continuing a series with a feature film. It’ll be interesting to see where Downton Abbey lands when it hits theaters.
The Downton Abbey movies does not currently have a release date.