The gates of Downton Abbey will reopen once more.
Focus Features announced on Monday that Downton Abbey 2, a big-screen sequel to the 2019 film — which was itself a follow-up to the 2011-16 ITV/PBS series — is officially happening, slated for a Christmas 2021 release in theaters.
Series creator Julian Fellowes “and the entire Downton cast” are returning for the film, and four new additions have been cast: Hugh Dancy (Hannibal), Dominic West (The Affair), Laura Haddock (Da Vinci’s Demons) and French actress Nathalie Baye. Their roles are being kept under wraps, as are plot details for the new movie; Fellowes will once again write the screenplay, while Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) will direct.
“There’s no place like home for the holidays, and we can’t imagine a better gift than getting to reunite with Julian, [producer] Gareth Neame and the entire Downton family in 2021 to bring the Crawleys back home for their fans,” said Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski.
The success of the original Downton Abbey film — which was released in September 2019 and went on to gross nearly $200 million globally — made a follow-up something of a no-brainer. The first movie followed the Crawley family and Downton Abbey staff as they prepared for a visit from the King and Queen of England, culminating in an elegant ball that honored the royals.
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But even though most of the original Downton cast returned for the first film, Lily James was notably absent as Robert’s trouble-making cousin Rose Aldridge, who had moved to New York during the show’s run. At the time, Allen Leech (aka Tom Branson) said James wanted to make a cameo in the movie, “but [Fellowes] was like, ‘There’s not enough room.’ It would be a bit weird if she [randomly showed up] and was like, ‘Hi, I hear the royals are here!'”
Leech did add, though, that “maybe [she could do it] if there’s another one. We could visit her in New York!”