It’s official! Downton Abbey, the movie, is coming to the big screen. Here’s what we know about the film.
Downton Abbey fans have waited a long time to hear that the much-talked-about movie based on the series would actually happen, but Downton’s showrunners have been dreaming about it even longer. At last, filming on the period drama has begun.
And we have a premiere date: Focus Features will release the Downton Abbey movie on Sept. 20, 2019, in North America and Universal Pictures International will debut it overseas a week earlier on Sept. 13, 2019.
Downton Abbey creator and writer Julian Fellowes will once again be responsible for the script, and Neame assures that fans of the 6-season ITV and PBS Masterpiece period series will be delighted, as “Julian’s script charms, thrills and entertains.”
Most of the original cast is returning: we know that Maggie Smith (Violet Crawley), Hugh Bonneville (Robert Crawley), Elizabeth McGovern (Cora Crawley), Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary), Laura Carmichael (Lady Edith Crawley), Joanne Froggatt (Anna Bates), Brendan Coyle (John Bates), Jim Carter (Charles Carson), Kevin Doyle (Joseph Molesley), and Allen Leech (Tom Branson) are in the new movie.
Matthew Goode (Henry Talbot), Robert James-Collier (Thomas Barrow), Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes), Sophie McShera (Daisy Mason), Lesley Nicol (Mrs. Patmore), Penelope Wilton (Isobel Crawley) and Harry Hadden-Paton (Bertie Pelham) are also reprising their roles.
Some familiar faces to British costume drama fans have joined the cast: look for Imelda Staunton (Miss Pole in Cranford), David Haig (Rudyard Kipling on My Boy Jack), Tuppence Middleton (Amelia Havisham in Dickensian), Kate Phillips (Tillie Zeigler in My Mother and Other Strangers), and Stephen Campbell Moore (Hugh Trimingham in The Go-Between). Also joining the cast is Geraldine James (Marilla Cuthbert in Anne with an E).
One character who won’t be back is Rose Aldridge, played by Lily James. In season 5, after marrying banker Atticus Aldridge (Matt Barber), Rose left for New York. James told People Magazine that the storyline wouldn’t include her, but she’s looking forward to seeing the movie, saying “It’s going to be really exciting…the whole gang is coming back.”
For a minute there it looked like that just might even mean a return of Dan Stevens’ character Matthew Crawley. On August 12, Stevens posted a photo on his Instagram account of himself, mustached, alongside Michelle Dockery (Lady Mary) and Allen Leech (Tom Brandon), asking “Should Matthew have a mustache for the #DowntonAbbeyMovie…? Vote below…” But as many suspected, he won’t be back. Phyllis Logan (Mrs. Hughes) confirmed that it was a joke when said “Sadly he’s still dead,” while speaking about his character, on the ITV show “Loose Women” in November.
From the wording of the announcement about the movie on Twitter (“We cordially invite you to return to Downton Abbey. Only in Cinemas.”) we can assume that the upcoming British historical period drama won’t be available on any streaming service at the time of its theatrical release.
Brian Percival (North & South, The Book Thief, Dark Angel) who directed 6 episodes of Downton including the pilot, will reprise his role for the Carnival Films production.
Though the the plot of the movie is still a mystery, it is expected to be set in the early 20th century in England, likely picking up a couple of years after the series ended. When nearly 10 million viewers tuned in at the close of season 6, it was 1926. The upstairs-downstairs dynamic had been forever changed by the war, and England’s aristocracy, Downton’s Crawley family included, were still adjusting to a new world. Still, things were looking good for most of the household.
A movie will set our characters off on a path of new personal dramas (and will introduce us to some new children), but we’ll also likely see historical events woven into the plot: all women over the age of 21 get the vote in 1928, the first movie with dialogue is shown in Britain in 1928, Wall Street Crash sparks the Great Depression in 1929, the ‘Round Table’ conferences on India begin in 1930. If the narrative is carried until 1936, the movie would logically include the death of George V and his succession by Edward VIII, and the end of the era may be a tidy ending point.
The movie version has much to live up to: Downton Abbey earned three Golden Globes, 15 Emmys, and a BAFTA, and a very special place in the hearts of period drama fans.
For now, there’s The Post-Downton Survival Guide and Downton’s Cast in Other Period Dramas.
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If you enjoyed this post, you’ll want to wander over to The Period Films List. You’ll especially like The Post-Downton Survival Guide and Downton’s Cast in Other Period Dramas.