The Crawley family have some royal visitors arriving in the upcoming Downton Abbey movie. The film has already set fans’ hearts racing as they anticipate the twists and turns which await them. But the journey to getting Downton Abbey to the big screen has been just as much of an adventure. Express.co.uk takes a look at the timeline of how long it took to get to the release date.
January 2012 – The talks begin
The first speculation about the show becoming a film came as early as 2012, after the show won big at the 2012 Golden Globes.
A source told The Sun: “Julian was chatting with various film directors and movie executives about the show and the possibility it would make a fantastic feature film.”
“Reese Witherspoon and Meryl Streep were also seen chatting and congratulating him and they were all chatting about how much of a success the film version would be.
“Julian was explaining he would have to give the idea a lot of thought and that lots of people have already asked him about film rights.”
Kate Phillips as Princess Mary in Downton Abbey
December 2014 – The talks really begin
Raquel Cassidy, who plays Phyllis Baxter in the show, told The Mirror the film was a “definite possibility.”
She said: “There have been talks and there is definitely a possibility of a Downton film – there is real hope.
“It’s been mentioned more than once and there’s a lot of commercial and artistic interest.”
March 2015 – The TV series comes to an end
Directors announced the beloved TV series would be ending.
Producer Gareth Neame even told the Mail on Sunday he had even been considering possible storylines for the film, despite its being unconfirmed at the time.
He said: “I think I have got a few ideas – I think it’s very possible and it would be fun for us to do.
“I certainly have no objections because the film would be another adventure.
“My own feeling would be that a film now would need to include the characters from the series as they were in the series.”
The Crawleys at breakfast in Downton Abbey
March 2016 – The timeline is in place
Mr Bates himself, played by Brendan Coyle, was “confirmed” to be joining the cast by a source who spoke to The Mirror.
The source also said the script did not include the Violet Crawley, played by Maggie Smith, at her own request.
They said: “There is a timeline in place – even though everyone is staying quiet about it for now.
“The film should be ready in time for Christmas 2018 and the script outlines are broadly in place.
“All the stars of the show have verbally committed to the film, which will be shot in the UK.”
Mrs Patmore and Mrs Hughes in Downton Abbey
October 2016 – A script is in the works
According to Joanne Froggatt, who plays Anna Bates, a script was “written” by October 2016, as she told This Morning.
She said: “We’ve all heard this rumour that the script has been written.
“There’s a hard copy somewhere but none of us have seen it or know what’s in it, so we’ll all keep our fingers crossed that it all comes together.
“We’re all willing it to happen and I’d absolutely jump at the chance to star in it if I’m asked – I’ll squeeze it in.”
June 2017 – Universal confirms the movie
The NBC Universal president Michael Edelstein confirmed the movie would be shot in 2018, but despite this seeming confirmation, it still looked like the film was a maybe.
He said: “There’s a movie in the works. It’s been in the works for some time.
“We are working on getting the script right and then we’ve got to figure out how to get the [cast] together… but we’re hopeful to make a movie sometime next year.”
The Crawleys are back together in Downton Abbey
December 2017 – Highclere Castle is closed for filming
By winter, Highclere Castle, which is used for filming Downton Abbey, was closed to visitors between May 30 and July 7, which suggested an official filming date for the film.
The source told us how “rounding up the actors has been tough” but they were determined to come back together for the film.
Only a month later, Phyllis Logan, who plays Mrs Hughes, told the Mail on Sunday she had been asked to clear her diary during specific dates, which certainly suggested a timeframe for filming.
July 2018 – Joanne Froggatt officially confirms the film
Joanne Froggatt tweeted a photo of herself, Michelle Dockery and Maggie Smith together, with the comment: “Delighted to announce we’re getting the band back together! #DowntonMovie #DowntonAbbey”
Just after this the release date was announced for September 13, 2019.
Maggie Smith as Violet Crawley in Downton Abbey
April 2019 – The royals are visiting
The first trailer debuted at CinemaCon, showing the Crawleys preparing for a royal visit from George V and Queen Mary.
We also see Carson being forced to leave his vegetable patch and join the team back at Downton to ensure everything goes perfectly.
September 2019 – Release date
That brings fans to the present day – and Downton Abbey enthusiasts just have a few days to wait before the film finally graces the big screen.
Downton Abbey is out in cinemas on September 13