Elizabeth McGovern stars as Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, left,...

Elizabeth McGovern stars as Cora Crawley, Countess of Grantham, left, and Laura Carmichael as Lady Edith Hexham in "Downton Abbey: A New Era."   Credit: Focus Features / Ben Blackall

The sequel to the 2019 hit film "Downton Abbey" will arrive in theaters a little later than expected.

"Downton Abbey: A New Era," originally scheduled for March 18, will now premiere in the United Kingdom roughly a month later, on Apr. 29. The film’s U.S. release date is May 20.

The sequel reunites the principal cast of the original film — and the long-running television show — that centered on the sprawling Yorkshire estate called Downton Abbey, inhabited by England’s aristocratic Crawley family and run by a troupe of servants. Among the new faces in the sequel are Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye and Dominic West. "Downton Abbey: A New Era," follows the Crawleys "as they go on a grand journey to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the Dowager Countess’ newly inherited villa," according to Focus Features.

Focus gave no reason for the date change, which was announced Wednesday.

The shift might give moviegoers a flashback to the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Throughout 2020, as cinemas sat dark, the major studios repeatedly pushed back the release dates of surefire hits like "No Time to Die," "Top Gun: Maverick" and "F9." Lately, even with theaters reopened and vaccines widely available, the box office has been spotty. Disney/Marvel’s "Spider-Man: No Way Home" has rocketed to $722 million domestically, while Steven Spielberg’s "West Side Story" fizzled with $35 million.

The original "Downton Abbey" film, released in September of 2019, earned $96 million domestically and another $96 million overseas.

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