‘Downton Abbey 2’ hitting theatres in December with original cast returning

THE STAR – Lord and Lady Grantham request the pleasure of moviegoers’ company at their Yorkshire country estate at the end of the year.

Rejoice, Downton Abbey fans, because Focus Features will shoot a sequel to the hit movie, itself a spinoff of the long-running television series. The original principal cast will all once again return for the second film, which began production last week and is set to release on December 22.

Gareth Neame’s Carnival Films will co-produce the picture. In addition to the original cast, Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye and Dominic West will join the festivities, providing viewers with a heavily romanticised view of the good old English class system along with a healthy dollop of real-estate envy.

Downton creator Julian Fellowes will once again write the film’s screenplay, with Emmy and Bafta winner Neame and Emmy Award-winning Liz Trubridge back to produce alongside him. Simon Curtis (My Week With Marilyn) will direct the sequel.

The initial film followed a royal visit to the Crawley family and Downton staff from the King and Queen of England. It’s unclear if another distinguished personage will visit the estate, sending staff and family into a dither and providing an opportunity for a few well-timed bon mots courtesy of Maggie Smith’s  Lady Violet.

Neame, the film’s producer and executive chairman of Carnival Films, said that follow-up was the perfect antidote to a terrible year and change.