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Downton Abbey Daisy and Mrs. Patmore cooking with smiles and conversation

Sequel talk surrounding Downton Abbey’s potential return to the big screen has been a hot topic ever since the Focus Features release broke records for the distributor when it came to its worldwide box office run. And now, creator Julian Fellowes has gone on record as stating a specific time frame as to when he might start working on that follow-up: just as soon as he’s done with his current project.

During a TCA event celebrating the Epix adaptation of Fellowes’ novel Belgravia, the period piece mastermind playfully fielded the question of when he would be starting work on Downton Abbey 2. His answer, which was noted as a potential joke, was this:

Give us a break, gov. Not until I’ve finished the scripts for The Gilded Age.

As Julian Fellowes also has that aforementioned HBO series on his plate, a potential second installment of the Crawley’s cinematic odyssey sounds like it would have to wait for quite a while in the grand scheme of things. Making a move from its former home at NBC, The Gilded Age is a ten episode spiritual prequel that takes place in 1880’s America, and boasts a cast that includes Cynthia Nixon, Amanda Peet, and Christine Baranski. So one can see why that would be a priority on Mr. Fellowes' mind at the current moment, as expectations are as high as the production's pedigree.

With The Gilded Age set to start shooting later this year, according to Deadline’s coverage pertaining to these remarks, Fellowes may not get to approach the subject of a Downton Abbey sequel story until around that very timeframe.

So if you’re one of those fans who want to see the continued adventures of Lord and Lady Grantham, Lady Mary, and the rest of the characters that made the series in a more expedited fashion, this probably sounds like bad news.

However, it’s another hopeful sign that this film could actually happen, and considering past remarks about Downton Abbey’s continued cinematic existence, it’s the best indicator we’ve gotten so far. Let’s not forget, producer Gareth Neame previously stated that talks were in early phases, and that sort of vague talk seemed like a weak sign of hope.

What makes Julian Fellowes remarks this time around rather promising is the fact that before the first Downton Abbey film happened, he wasn’t all that hopeful for the chances of the jump from TV to cinema ever happening. And yet, even if this what Fellowes said above is a lighthearted joke, the fact that he’s not dismissing Downton Abbey 2: The Wrath of the Dowager Countess outright is something that seems like a marked improvement of fortune.

Not to mention, even if he’s having a problem trying to figure out what a Downton sequel’s story should be centered around, there’s plenty of input from various cast members and even director Michael Engler that could lead to some promising results. So the previous case of writers block that stymied Julian Fellowes’ work on the initial film should, thankfully, be absent when it comes to the writing process of Downton Abbey 2.

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Even The Cast Has Ideas On Where Downton Abbey Film Sequels Should Go

As usual, nothing is set in stone when it comes to Downton Abbey 2’s writing process, and Fellowes may find himself drawn to another project’s good graces once The Gilded Age is finished to his liking. However, knowing how passionate the fandom is about any potential continuation of the Downton legacy, anything could happen while the series’ popularity is enjoying a second wind of sorts.

For now, Downton Abbey’s cinematic event is currently on Digital HD, Blu-ray and DVD, with the entire series available on streaming through Prime Video and other fine providers of streaming media.