You heard us! Would we lie to you?
Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski announced today that Focus has set production with Gareth Neame’s Carnival Films on Downton Abbey 2. The original principal cast will all once again return for the second film which began production last week and is set to release Christmas 2021 on December 22, 2021. In addition to the original cast, Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye and Dominic West will join the cast. Downton creator Academy-Award® winner Julian Fellowes will once again write the film’s screenplay, with Emmy and BAFTA Award-winning Gareth Neame and Emmy Award-winning Liz Trubridge back to produce with Fellowes. BAFTA and Emmy nominated director Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) will join the filmmaking team to direct the sequel.
The initial film followed a Royal Visit to the Crawley family and Downton staff from the King and Queen of England and ended with a ball fitting for the Royal Family.
Gareth Neame, the film’s producer and executive chairman of Carnival Films 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 re-united with the much beloved characters of Downton Abbey.”
Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski said, “There’s no place like home for the holidays, and we can’t imagine a better gift than getting to reunite with Julian, Gareth, and the entire Downton family in 2021 to bring the Crawley’s back home for their fans.”
This announcement seems to have caught everyone by surprise, although it always seemed likely that a cinematic return to Grantham was going to happen at some point. The first film was a surprise hit and it seemed like most of the cast was amenable to keeping the cash cow good and fed. The news is that Maggie Smith is returning, which indicates that this film will advance the story of the Earl of Grantham and his family exactly one-half millimeter. After all, she announced she was dying in the last one and there’s only so far you can advance a story with a character in her nineties. Given the wording here, we wonder if this will be nothing more than an extended Christmas visit to Downton. There are worse ways to spend a couple of hours and let’s face it: there’s a huge worldwide audience who’d be happy with nothing more than Mrs. Patmore’s pudding drama and scenes of villagers singing carols in their tweeds and sensible shoes.
[Photo Credit: Focus Features]