A second movie sequel of the hit Edwardian drama series "Downton Abbey" is set for release Dec. 22.
"We're thrilled to announce that Julian Fellowes," the series' creator and writer of the first film, "and the entire Downton cast are back for #DowntonAbbey2, with Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye and Dominic West joining!" tweeted distributor Focus Features on Monday. "See the film in theaters this Christmas."
In a separate announcement, the company said Simon Curtis (2011's "My Week with Marilyn," 2017's "Goodbye Christopher Robin") will direct. Production began last week.
"Good to be back. #DowntonAbbey2," tweeted Hugh Bonneville, who plays family patriarch Robert Crawley, Earl of Grantham. Lesley Nicol, who portrays the motherly but autocratic cook Beryl Patmore, tweeted, "Woo Hoo."
The first film, released in 2019, followed a royal visit to the Crawley family and their Yorkshire estate Downton Abbey from England's King George V and Queen Mary. The series ran from 2010 to 2015 in the U.K., and, in the United States, from 2011 to 2016 as part of the PBS omnibus "Masterpiece Theatre." The series and its cast and crew won 15 Emmy Awards, with several dozen nominations.
"After a very challenging year with so many of us separated from family and friends, it is a huge comfort to think that better times are ahead and that ... [this] Christmas we will be reunited with the much-beloved characters of Downton Abbey," Gareth Neame, chairman of the production company Carnival Film & Television, said in a statement.
Added Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski, "[W]e can't imagine a better gift than getting to reunite with Julian, Gareth, and the entire Downton family in 2021 to bring the Crawleys back home for their fans."
Dancy starred as FBI agent Will Graham opposite Mads Mikkelsen's serial-killer title character in NBC's 2013-15 series "Hannibal." West starred with Maura Tierney and Ruth Wilson on Showtime's 2014-19 "The Affair" and played Baltimore detective Jimmy McNulty on HBO's "The Wire" (2002-08).
The 2019 film, coming three years after the series finale, made $194.3 million on a modest budget of less than $20 million, according to The Associated Press.