In some ways, Downton Abbey’s foray into the big screen came as no surprise. During its series run, it went on to achieve an astounding 69 Emmy nominations (effectively edging out Seinfeld and VEEP). At the same time, fans admittedly can’t get enough of the British show’s stellar cast, which is led by Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Phyllis Logan, and of course, Dame Maggie Smith (who is also best remembered for her time in the Harry Potter franchise).
And so, much to everyone’s delight, a Downton Abbey movie was release back in 2019. The film essentially continued the story from the series while also dealing with a visit from Great Britain’s King and Queen. The follow-up, Downton Abbey: A New Era, was also released more recently.
And this time, the Crawley family ventures out to the South of France after the Dowager Countess (Smith) inherits a villa. Since then, fans have also wondered if a third film would also be coming out soon.
It Was Never Intended For ‘Downton Abbey’ To Become A Movie
When show creator Julian Fellowes ended the series in 2015, he sincerely thought that that was it. But then, the more he thought about the idea, the more it made sense. And so, Fellowes started planning for it. “It was about a year after the series finished that I realized we were going to make a film, and I started thinking properly about what it would consist of,” he recalled.
Just like that, Fellowes started to put the script together. And just like on the show, he knew he needed to introduce new people in the mix. That’s what happens in Downton Abbey, after all. “We always did that, that was sort of a Downtown hallmark,” Fellowes explained.
“You always want a couple of new characters, so you can have some situations that you haven’t previously explored.”
In the end, Fellowes went with Imelda Staunton who has gained critical praise on both the big screen and at the West End. “I wanted to have someone who stood up to Maggie’s character Violet and gave her as good as she got,” he said. “It was quite the tall order. But happily, Imelda agreed to do the picture, and I think she’s marvelous in it.”
The first film was quite a success, hauling in over $190 million at the box office. Not to mention, it also attracted a new audience demographic, much to the surprise of Focus Features, who produced the movie. “We were frankly surprised and thrilled that there were 25-40-year-olds making up a very significant part of the audience,” Jason Cassidy, the company’s vice chairman, remarked.
And so, it was decided that a sequel would happen with Staunton also staying on for Downton Abbey: A New Era. This time around, the actress was joined by a couple more Downton newcomers, namely Dominic West and Laura Haddock who plays a silent film actress whose latest picture suddenly gets transformed into a talkie. The storyline is based on Alfred Hitcock’s Blackmail, which started out as a silent movie but then, featured dialogue in the second half of the film.
Here’s Where A Third ‘Downton Abbey’ Movie Stands Today
Since the release of A New Era, reactions have been mostly positive (although critics appear to be split about the latest film). And when it comes to the possibility of following up, Fellowes believes it can go either way.
“I don’t know the answer to that, the truth is if they want more and the cast want to do more, then I’m sure we’ll find a way of delivering more,” he explained. “But I don’t mind if it’s run its course, I think that’s fair enough, too.”
On the other hand, Focus Features remains rather tight-lipped about Downton’s movie future. “All our focus right now is making this film connect with audiences,” the company’s chairman, Peter Kujawski, explained. “Right now, it’s really about this movie and a lot of things that we’re talking about that are on the edge of this movie that are Downton related.” That said, he also admitted, “It would also be foolish of us not to be contemplating the idea of what Downton can continue to be to audiences and what a future would look like.”
On the other hand, Downton producer Gareth Neame appears to be more convinced that a third movie should happen. After all, Downton represents a “prime piece of IP,” a term often associated with superhero properties. “I would like to do another movie, and I’m very optimistic about this film, particularly for the fans,” Neame remarked.
For the meantime, they are also focused on growing the Downton IP outside of cinemas. For instance, there are plans for a special entitled Fireside Chat with Julian Fellowes and the video series Inside The Downton Kitchen.
Meanwhile, the film’s cast has also been preoccupied with various other projects. For starters, Dockery recently starred in the Netflix drama Anatomy of a Scandal (which became the streamer’s most-watched show despite having mixed reviews) while Bonneville and Smith are both set to star in several upcoming films.