Bridgerton is going to have some holiday competition this year. Fan-favorite period romance drama Downton Abbey is coming back with a brand-new film in time for the 2021 holidays. Fans were hopeful a big-screen sequel to the first film would be coming soon, and now it's official: Downton Abbey 2 will release in theaters this Christmas.
Much like the first film, a big-screen sequel to the Downton franchise was probably inevitable. The film dominated theaters its opening weekend, surprising industry watchers by being the top-grossing film of September 2019. The movie went on to bring in $237 million worldwide, a superhero-level amount of money. (To be fair, one could argue that Lady Violet Crawley is practically on par with X-Men, what with her ability to take out all comers via barbed witticisms.)
Like the first film, the presumed problem with Downton 2 was how to get the sprawling cast to line up their schedules. However, for once, the coronavirus-related shutdowns in the entertainment world may have worked to aid a project instead of hinder it. The cast and crew began filming the project in mid-April 2021, right when the UK lifted its third round of lockdown restrictions, thus enabling the film to head to theaters in time for the holidays.
So, what's going to happen in Downton Abbey 2? Here's everything we know so far:
'Downton Abbey 2' Announcement
Despite everyone's best efforts to keep the forthcoming film under wraps, Hugh Bonneville spilled a few beans about Downton Abbey 2 in February 2021. Speaking to BBC Radio 2, he hinted filming was just around the corner. In April 2021, Focus Features made that official with an announcement that Downton Abbey 2 was already filming.
'Downton Abbey 2' Cast
According to Focus Features' announcement, "the original principal cast" will return for the new film. That means fans will again get to see the Crawley family, including Hugh Bonneville and Elizabeth McGovern as Lord and Lady Grantham. Michelle Dockery and Laura Carmichael will return as their daughters Lady Mary and Lady Edith, and Allen Leech as son-in-law Tom Branson. Matthew Goode and Harry Hadden-Paton will return as Mary and Edith's respective husbands. Of course, Penelope Wilton and Maggie Smith continue to be the grand dames of the series as Isobel and Violet.
The downstairs staff once again begins with Jim Carter and Phyllis Logan as Carson and Mrs. Hughes, Brendan Coyle and Joanne Froggatt as Bates and Anne, and Michael Fox and Sophie McShera and Andy and Daisy. Rob James-Collier continues to be the world's meanest butler, Barrow, Kevin Doyle as the hapless footman Molesley, Raquel Cassidy as lady's maid Baxter, and Lesley Nicol as everyone's favorite sharp-tongued cook Mrs. Patmore.
The new film also adds in a few new faces. Hannibal's Hugh Dancy and Guardians of the Galaxy's Laura Haddock are the two biggest names to join the cast. French legend Nathalie Baye (The Return of Martin Guerre) and The Crown's Dominic West will also be featured. No word yet whether Imelda Stauton, who joined the Crawley family as a distant cousin in the first film, will also reprise her role.
'Downton Abbey 2' Plot
The first movie featured a royal visit from George V and Queen Mary. It was the perfect excuse for bringing the band back together, with details based on actual British history.
No plot has been released as of yet for the new Downton Abbey film, but there is at least one clue hidden in the casting: Nathalie Baye, a French actor on par with Maggie Smith. This suggests that once again the interpersonal drama will feature two high-born ladies duking it out, although precisely what the excuse is for Baye's character to travel to England remains to be seen.
'Downton Abbey 2' Release Date
No formal date as been set for the new Downton Abbey film's arrival other than "Christmas time." That said, Downton Abbey 2 is expected to arrive in theaters either on or around Dec. 25, 2021.