Surprise: A Downton Abbey Sequel is Coming to Theaters on Christmas

Image via Focus Features

Although it’s unclear whether the tradition of a Christmas Day trip to the cinema will be possible in 2021, writer Julian Fellowes is still solidifying what families will be watching for the holidays. Today, it was announced that Downton Abbey 2 has secretly begun production and will be ready to premiere on December 22nd. Oh, and this time around, the Crawleys will be joined by some choice famous faces.

"The original principal cast will all once again return for the second film, which began production last week and is set to release Christmas 2021," read a press release. "In addition to the original cast, Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye and Dominic West will join the cast."

Fellowes returned to write the script, and Simon Curtis will direct this time around. He’s best known for his films My Week With Marilyn and Goodbye Christopher Robin.

Little, however, is known about the plot. In the first film, released in 2019, the Crowleys entertained the King and Queen during a royal visit. With only a $13 million budget, the film racked up nearly $200 million at the worldwide box office. There’s little wonder as to why the band might want to reunite for a sequel.

“There’s no place like home for the holidays, and we can’t imagine a better gift than getting to reunite with Julian, Gareth, and the entire Downton family in 2021 to bring the Crawleys back home for their fans,” added Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski in the release.

It’s certainly a smart move. The box office release pipeline is in somewhat of an off state. Several films have been held on the shelf and pushed back due to the pandemic, while others delayed filming. Downton is a beloved and well-known franchise at this point, but it's also not some special-effect juggernaut. The United Kingdom also just exited what may be its final lockdown, and cases of Covid-19 there are much lower than they are in America and much of continental Europe. Meaning, this is sort of a no-brainer for a quick film turnaround.

Still, unless release dates are scattered once again, the sequel will have some competition. Spider-Man: No Way Home, Sing 2, The King’s Man, The Matrix 4, Wicked and West Side Story all have mid-to-late December releases penciled in.