The period drama television series Downton Abbey was a massive hit in both the UK and the United States. This series was created and co-written by Julian Fellowes, and it is set in a fictional country estate in Yorkshire, England. It aired for the first time in the UK in September 2010 and was then launched in the United States the following year. In total, this series ran for six seasons and maintained high viewing figures throughout. Due to the success of the Downton Abbey television series, it has now been confirmed that production of a movie version of Downton Abbey is being created. This is something that fans of the series have hoped will happen for some time, and rumors circulated for months before it was officially confirmed that a film was definitely in the pipeline. So, what do we know about this movie so far?
According to Town & Country, the news of the movie was released by Focus chairman Peter Kujawski, who said that the film is being released in North America on September 20, 2019. Apparently, the storyline for the film will begin in the fall of 1927 and will revolve around a visit from King George V and Queen Mary to Downton. Prior to this visit, Downton Abbey’s operating budget has been cut and the estate is forced to operate with less staff. The news of the royal visit leads to former head butler Carson returning to help manage the operation. The trailer for the film also hints that a relationship may develop between Branson and Lucy, Bagshaw’s maid. Also, it is believed that Anna gives birth to a child in the film. Another rumor relating to the storyline is that Lady Mary will consider leaving the estate forever.
The script has been written by Julian Fellowes, who is also the creator and lead writer for the television series. Fellowes is also co-producing the film in collaboration with Gareth Neame and Liz Trubridge. Directing the film is American theatre director Michael Engler, who began his career as a film, television, and theatre director in 1983. Scottish composer John Lunn has composed the soundtrack for this film. Carnival Films is the production company. This is a London-based company that was founded in 1978. They have not produced a feature film since 1997 when they produced both ‘Firelight’ and ‘Up on the Roof’. Focus Films is the distribution company responsible for the Downton Abbey movie. This is an American film production and distribution company that was established in 2002 and is owned by Comcast through Universal Pictures.
The good news for fans is that most of the cast from the television series are also cast in the same roles in the film, says Radio Times. Some of these include Dame Maggie Smith as the Dowager Countess, Hugh Bonneville as the Earl of Downton, Joanne Froggatt as Anna Bates, and Michele Dockery as Lady Mary. Also returning are Lesley Nicol as Mrs. Patmore, Elizabeth McGovern as Lady Cora, Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith, and Allen Leech as Tom Branson.
Some people may be surprised that Maggie Smith has returned to do the movie as she has previously stated in interviews that she was glad when the series was over. She said in an interview with Graham Norton that her character, the Dowager Countess, must have been at least 110 by the time filming ended. Smith said that it made no sense for the series to go on and on with the Dowager Countess just getting more and more unbelievably old. However, not all cast member from the television series will appear in the film. One cast member who is not returning is Lily James as Lady Rose. In the series, Lady Rose emigrated to New York. Lily James has said that she would have loved to have been involved in the movie, but that it didn’t make sense to the storyline.
Some characters are being introduced in the film, so viewers will see actors who did not appear in the television series. Some of the newcomers include Imelda Staunton, Tuppence Middleton, Simon Jones, Kate Phillips, Geraldine James, Stephen Campbell Moore, and David Haig. Another person who has joined the cast in an undisclosed role is Max Brown. Another actor who is not in the movie is Ed Speleers, who played second footman James Kent from season three through to season five of the television series. He said that he never received a call to appear in the movie, but that being in the television series was an important part of his life; not least because it is how he met the mother of his children, wardrobe director Asia Macey.
Principal photography for the film began in late August 2018 in London. Filming was underway for the Downton Abbey film, with some of the filming taking place at Highclere Castle in Hampshire. This is also the primary location for the television series. Another location used for the film was Lacock, Wiltshire. Filming for the movie has already wrapped, because the last scenes were shot in November 2018. In a post shared on the official Downton Abbey Twitter account shortly after filming was finished announced ‘It’s a wrap!’ along with the information that the film contained 143 unforgettable scenes that were shot over 50 days.
That is all that is known at this time about the Downton Abbey movie, and fans will not have long to wait before they can watch the film for themselves when it is released in September. Until then, fans of the television series will have to satisfy themselves with watching reruns of the series or binge-watch the entire series. To catch a sneak peek of what to expect from the new Downton Abbey movie, you can watch the recently released official trailer above.