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Many of us spent years watching the lives of the Crawley family play out, and the story isn't over yet. In the time since the series wrapped on PBS and ITV there has been some talk about putting together a big screen feature, and we knew a script was in the works. Regardless, the behemoth cast coupled with the fact that many of the members of the original cast have gone on to bigger projects has meant the timing took a while to work out. Now, however, the wait is over, as Focus Features and Carnival films are officially bringing fans the Downton Abbey movie.

It's still early days on the upcoming film project, so we don't know exactly when the movie will be released, yet, but shooting will happen this summer. In addition, we do know that Gareth Neame, Julian Fellowes and Liz Trubridge will produce, and Fellowes has already written a script for the project. Brian Percival is also returning to Downton Abbey to direct; he has already spent time behind the camera for the show's pilot. The announcement from Focus Features does note "the original principal cast" from the show will be back for the big screen production. That's definitely good news because it means there won't be any recasting for the major characters we've come to know and love. It does leave the door open for some questions, however.

Namely, I'd love to know if and how Julian Fellowes, Gareth Neame and co. have managed to convince Maggie Smith to come back for another go. The actress, who played Dowager Countess Violet Crawley during Downton Abbey's original run, has been one of the few people closely connected with the series who has not seemed excited about a potential big screen endeavor. Memorably, she has stated in the past she'd be like 110 on the show now, and that her character should really be dead. Another time she noted a movie project would be like beating a dead horse. That quote has plenty of spunk, too...

I just think it's squeezing it dry, do you know what I mean? I don't know what it could possibly be. It was so meandering, what would you [do]? Anyway that's not my problem. That's the Lord's [Julian Fellowes'] problem.

So, there are some questions to be resolved. By the original cast, did literally everyone noteworthy say yes? In some ways the series wrapped up storylines nicely for characters, with Daisy moving to a farm, Carson retiring, Violet ceding to Cora's oversight, and Mrs. Patmore running a B&B. In addition, does that mean some actors who were added later, like Lily James, also be back? James has had a big Hollywood career since appearing on Downton Abbey and can next be seen in Mamma Mia! Here We Go Again. I also can't wait to learn how far the time jump will be between the end of the series and the big screen movie, as well.

Following the announcement this morning, Michelle Dockery took to social media to share her excitement about the new project, giving us a look at Lady Mary and Lady Edith, so she will most certainly be one of the returning actors for the movie.

We'll definitely be hearing more about The Downton Abbey movie in the months to come, and we'll be sure to bring you details as they come in. For now, there are plenty of good movies heading into theaters in 2018.

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