You might find it hard to believe, but Downton Abbey has quietly become a runaway hit since it opened in theaters a little over a week ago. With consistently impressive numbers and a relatively small production budget, there’s a chance this film could be making a case for at least one sequel, if not a franchise of films helping to wrap the story of writer/creator Julian Fellowes’ Crawley family. As it happens, the way this first film has performed, along with how it ends, both confirm the notion that a sequel would be a fantastic idea.
While the numbers seem to speak for themselves, it’s really down to whether or not the creative team could see themselves coming back for another Downton Abbey adventure. Obviously, there are a lot of pieces that need to fall into place for any sort of follow-up to take place, but we do have some ideas regarding where and why things could move forward in the future.
A good place to start is whether or not there’s a concrete plan in play for Downton Abbey to move forward in sequels. Unfortunately, according to director Michael Engler, the answers is a resounding no. That's not to say there isn't hope however. Let's talk it out.
There Aren’t Plans For A Downton Abbey Movie Sequel... Yet
Reviving a six-season television series like Downton Abbey for one more big screen adventure almost felt like a way to really wrap things up. Whether it’s because of Julian Fellowes needing a specific amount of inspiration to get the first film off the ground, or if everyone involved was being optimistically cautious about whether or not the cinematic event would be a hit, there were no conscious plans to leave the doors open for a sequel movie.
However, that’s not to say that there couldn’t be a sequel, as Julian Fellowes tends to like his stories to close off chapters in time with paths to the future. Michael Engler understands that fact as well as anyone, as he displayed when I spoke with him, on behalf of CinemaBlend, for the Downton Abbey press day. His assessment of the situation was the following:
There may not be exact plans to make a Downton Abbey sequel, but there’s certainly a lot of room for such a possibility to happen. And with that Fellowes openness in the air, there’s no telling what could be headed down the road for our beloved characters. Uncertainty is the word of the day, and even without any specific odds, it was a possibility I needed to discuss with the members of the cast I got to speak with.
What’s The Next Big Adventure For The Crawley Household?
Elizabeth McGovern’s Lady Cora Crawley, (Hugh Bonneville, who plays her husband Lord Robert Crawley, and the rest of their family have just experienced a royal visit, as well as some familial intrigue over an inheritance that revealed a family secret. So naturally, it’s been another day at Downton Abbey, as half of that particular formula is par for the course.
After now having been host to King George V and Queen Mary, where could the Crawley’s next big adventure lie? I asked Ms. McGovern myself, and while she didn't get into specifics, she had these exciting and insightful thoughts to provide about the future for the Crawley household:
Truly, the running thread through the entirety of Downton Abbey has been the uncertainty of the future, with society’s march forward being the only constant. One of the people who embodied that sentiment best is Allen Leech’s irrepressibly loyal Tom Branson, whose fate has also been touched by the openness that this film leaves in the wake of its ending.
Could Tom Branson Have Finally Found Love Again?
With Allen Leech’s Tom Branson and Tuppence Middleton's Lucy Smith finding themselves potentially entangled in romance, as well as a particular estate that the Crawley family may want to lay claim on, a new chapter looks to be starting in the life of the former chauffeur-turned-member of the Crawley family.
Jullian Fellowes’ tendency for open-but-satisfying endings has Tom in a particularly beautiful place, especially when you read how Leech himself interprets where Downton Abbey leaves his character. When I asked him for his own thoughts about potential sequel paths that Branson could take, his feelings were as follows:
Of course, with Lucy and Tom sharing their big torchlight dance towards the end of Downton Abbey, it looks like the pair have provided Julian Fellowes with a particularly intriguing path for future films to walk down. For the first time since Branson’s would-be romance with school teacher Sarah Bunting, it looks he may have a new love to pursue after all. Leech’s thoughts continued:
With the world that the Crawleys live and operate within slowly changing into something entirely different, new leadership is obviously going to be required. As Tom Branson and Lucy Smith represent a pair of insiders invited by fate to shake things up with the status quo, their romance could be the key to how the world of Downton Abbey progresses in an easy, but also radically different manner that will create both excitement and turmoil.
Which ultimately brings us to one last point, circling things back to director Michael Engler’s thoughts on the future of the series.
How Downton Abbey Could Continue Into The Future
In the same conversation that saw myself and Michael Engler discussing the potential for Downton Abbey sequels, the subject of where a sequel could go was also raised for discussion. Which led the film’s director to provide a quite poignant answer when it came to the future of the Crawley family saga.
As it turns out, even if the Crawleys are no longer the center of the Downton universe, Michael Engler doesn’t see a problem continuing the series with fresh blood taking the manor to new corners of history. His explanation why was pretty solid too:
Downton Abbey might have a descendant of the Crawley family in its residence for the next century, just as Mr. Carson predicted toward the end of the film. But if it doesn’t happen to shake out that way, it’s not the end of the world. Rather, the manor would go on, no matter who is in charge of its maintenance.
Though let’s face it, should Julian Fellowes decide to keep Downton Abbey going on the big screen, it’s probably a good bet that the family that’s had it throughout the length of the series would probably maintain their grasp on the family land for as long as they can, in hypothetical sequels to come. Lest the Dowager Countess’s eventual ghost haunt whomever tries to take her family’s birthright from their kind and caring hands.
Downton Abbey is in theaters now, but if you’ve already had your fill of the majesty and drama the series has brought to the big screen, you can check out what else is in store for this year with the 2019 release schedule while we wait for potential news on Downton Abbey 2.
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