The Downton Abbey movie arrives in theaters four years after the TV series signed off. Will there be a sequel? This movie is, of course, itself a sequel to the beloved TV show, but it’s unclear if there will be another movie after this one. At the moment, the film is intended as a standalone, but as we all know, success can change things pretty quickly.
After a year or so of speculation, it was confirmed in July 2018 that a Downton movie was definitely happening, positioned as a follow-up to where we left off with the characters in the 2015 series finale. The film will pick up approximately a year and a half after the events of that final episode, which saw both Crawley daughters married and a bit of a regime change downstairs at Downton.
“When the television series drew to a close it was our dream to bring the millions of global fans a movie and now, after getting many stars aligned, we are shortly to go into production. Julian [Fellowes]’s script charms, thrills and entertains and in Brian Percival’s hands we aim to deliver everything that one would hope for as Downton comes to the big screen,” Carnival Films chairman Gareth Neame told Variety in a statement at the time.
The entire main cast is set to return for the movie, with a few minor exceptions. Matthew Goode, who joined the cast in the fifth season as Lady Mary’s new suitor and eventual second husband, has a smaller role due to his other commitments during filming, and Lily James, who became a breakout star thanks to her role as the Crawleys’ cousin Lady Rose, does not appear at all. On the subject of James, at least, Neame explained to Radio Times that her absence was both a practical and a storytelling concern.
“Lily is now a big star, and it would’ve been incredibly difficult for her to find time in her schedule to come and play essentially a supporting role in Downton when her career was in a different place when she was with us . . . She came in and made some visits in a couple of episodes [in the final season], but her story ended at the end of the fifth season when she went off to America. We knew we had to focus on the very core characters because there are not very many movies with 20 leading characters, and the dynamic of the TV series was that all these characters were treated equally.”
The movie’s plot is mostly under wraps, but we do know that it focuses on the visit of King George V and his wife Queen Mary to Downton (although the reason for the royal visit is still unknown). Trailers seem to hint at a coming regime change at Downton, with Lady Mary poised to take the reins, and possible new romances for a couple of characters who were single when the series wrapped up. So far, there is absolutely no public discussion about a sequel, but as any movie fan knows, that doesn’t mean there never will be one! For now, it looks like the focus is on making the movie a sort of giant, standalone “episode” that satisfactorily wraps up everyone’s story again, but there’s always a possibility of untying some loose ends or picking up with the characters again down the line.