Downton Abbey: A New Era Movie Hit With Delay

In the event that you thought the movie release schedule shuffle had settled down, Focus Features and Universal Pictures have announced a big change to their calendar with the delay of Downton Abbey: A New Era. Previously scheduled to be released on March 18 of this year, the film has now been pushed back to April 29, 2022 for audiences in the UK and won't be released in the United States until May 20, 2022. Downton creator and Academy-Award winner Julian Fellowes penned the script for the sequel which sees the original principal cast return once again with some new additions to the cast.

Originally announced back in 2019, the sequel film had its production delayed by the ongoing pandemic. Shooting eventually began in the middle of 2021 with BAFTA and Emmy nominee Simon Curtis (My Week with Marilyn) set to direct. Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, and Maggie Smith all return to their original roles alongside fellow co-stars Laura Carmichael, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Harry Hadden-Paton, Robert James-Collier, Allen Leech, and Sophie McShera. New cast members for the film include Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye, Jonathan Zaccaï, and Dominic West. The brief synopsis for the new film reads:

"The much-anticipated cinematic return of the global phenomenon reunites the beloved cast as they go on a grand journey to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the Dowager Countess' newly inherited villa."

"I'm pleased with it actually, I think it works pretty well," Fellowes said in an interview with ITV's Love Your Weekend with Alan Titchmarsh (via Express). "It's a feel-good [movie], and I don't know about you, but I could use a bit of feel-good right now. There's a kind of fun in getting the club together again because it's been a long time, particularly for the young ones – their careers have changed entirely over this period."

Though the Downton Abbey series is best known for being an awards darling airing on PBS for six seasons, the feature film in 2019 was a major hit. Produced on a reported budget of $20 million, the film brought in over $190 million at the global box office. It seems unlikely that "A New Era" will be able to capture that same success amid a surge in COVID-19 cases, but  the delay by the studio no doubt signals confidence in the product and the assumption that audiences will be eager to return to theaters in the start of the summer.