Why Making A Downton Abbey Sequel Should Be 'Smoother,’ According To The Producer

Downton Abbey Elizabeth McGovern looking at the camera

Now that Downton Abbey totally rocked the box office earlier this year, a sequel is allegedly in its early stages. While nothing official about Downton Abbey 2 has come down the pipeline yet, producer Gareth Neame does believe a sequel would be “smoother.”

Elaborating on why, Gareth Neame described how Downton Abbey has successfully transitioned from the small screen to the big screen, which means hopefully that people will be less skittish about the prospect of trying another. Per Neame:

It'll be smoother in one sense — that it's now hopefully a proven concept. It's not one of those shows that came from TV and then flopped in the cinema. So I think that will give everyone comfort that, yes, we know it works. But the challenge will be, is everyone available at the same time? Can we make deals with them? That will be the challenge.

The knowledge that the concept works probably felt great a few months ago when the flick was pulling in major moolah at the box office. It also has meant the creative team has been more open about the possibility of a sequel in the (hopefully near) future. Still, the word “challenge” is used here, and it’s the same “challenge” the first Downton Abbey movie faced.

The cast is busy. In fact, Hugh Bonneville has a slew of movies coming up, including Jingle Jangle and An Unquiet Life. Michelle Dockery is filming Defending Jacob, a new TV series. Other actors, including Brendan Coyle, Maggie Smith, Elizabeth McGovern, Allen Leech and more all have upcoming projects in the works as well.

Many of them could make time in their schedules, but the trick is everyone in the massive ensemble cast having time to film at the same time. It’s tricky, tricky (Tricky) tricky.

Yet Gareth Neame admits in the interview with THR that the Downton Abbey movie was not guaranteed to be a success ahead of its release. Would fans who liked watching from the comfort of their couches make it all the way into the theater to see their little movie? The answer was yes, but the creative team had to wait on the response before they felt comfortable pitching more ideas.

We started vaguely thinking about it before the release of the movie. But we were kind of holding our breath. The reaction to the film, the press tour in the U.S. and the buildup to release were so strong that we'd been thinking about it. And then it was clear from the first weekend that this was worth taking very seriously.

Lately, the creative team has been bullish about a Downton Abbey sequel. In addition to these comments from Gareth Neame, the producer has previously said Downton Abbey 2 could start filming within the next year or two. In addition, director Micheal Engler has spoken to CinemaBlend about how Downton Abbey, like the real world, is constantly “evolving.”

So, there will always be room for more storytelling in that world. And we’ve even put together a whole list of possible spinoffs, should fans want to engage with the Crawleys in a different timeline.

Now, let’s get to the most important question: Will Maggie Smith be back?

Jessica Rawden
Managing Editor

Reality TV fan with a pinch of Disney fairy dust thrown in. Theme park junkie. If you’ve created a rom-com I’ve probably watched it.