Downton Abbey movie sequel already being worked on, confirms producer

DOWNTON Abbey is set to return for a big screen sequel after the success of the movie this summer.

The producer of the Emmy-Award winning behemoth revealed on Monday that plans for a follow-up to the big-screen spin-off are afoot, after the box-office-topping movie smashed all expectations.

In news which will no doubt delight fans of the Crawleys, Gareth Neame, the executive producer, told The Hollywood Reporter that talks are underway for a follow-up.

"We started vaguely thinking about it [a sequel] 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," he told them.

The Downton Abbey movie made $31 million on its debut weekend, and has since made over $184 million.

The success of the movie, Neame says, has made him expect the stars of the film to be asking for more money.

Asked by THR whether salary expectations will rise, the British executive said: "Well, I don't expect them to fall."

The greatest issue he says they will face in putting together a sequel is getting the large cast's schedules to work together and for the story to be strong enough.

"We're having those conversations. We're working on what the story is, and when we might be able to make it. But it's the same as the first time around: We have to try to get everyone back together again. And that was very challenging," he said.

He told them that hopefully doing a sequel to the movie will be easier than the first time they took the show from the small screen to the big screen.

"It'll be smoother in one sense," he told THR. "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," he continued.

Fans of the Dowager Countess might be concerned that a sequel would mean she was killed off, as was suggested at the end of the movie.

However, Neame says that Dame Maggie Smith, who plays the Dowager, could still be a fixture in any sequel.

He explained that she was not concerned by the potential for the character to be written out.

"She's not one of those actors who thinks it's her responsibility to propose storylines," he said.

"She obviously knew that because she read the script before agreeing to do it. But all I would say is that one of the things that's been commented on over the years about Downton is that we've had plenty of medical misdiagnoses."

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