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‘Downton Abbey’: Julian Fellowes Not Opposed to Third Movie, Surprised at ‘Franchise’ Designation

This weekend, audiences returned to the grand Grantham estate in “Downton Abbey: A New Era.” The movie brings the characters to 1928, the year when silent motion pictures transitioned into talkies. There’s also plenty of new characters and some farewells to those long-established within the popular TV series.

But while this second movie is only just in theaters, it’s impossible not to wonder if a third movie is in the offing, especially considering screenwriter Julian Fellowes’ recent television success with another group of haves and have-nots in the HBO series “The Gilded Age.”

Fellowes, while talking to IndieWire during the recent press tour for “Downton Abbey: A New Era,” said he certainly wouldn’t discount another movie but much will depend on timing. “These things become clearer over time, if there is still a demand for more ‘Downton,’ and the actors, if enough of them want to do it. I certainly wouldn’t block it,” he said. The screenwriter said he’s learned to never say never. “I’ve had five times now of thinking I’ve said goodbye to them and then here they are again.”

Both he and director Simon Curtis, who takes over directorial duties for this film, were surprised to hear “Downton Abbey” called a franchise, though the success of the series and now two films certainly makes a compelling argument.

In an article from earlier this year, Fellowes previously described the sequel as following Lady Mary (Dockery) as she takes over the duties for Lady Violet following her illness. “We’re trying to mark the change — the fact that Crawleys of Downton are nearly in the 1930s, which is merely the beginning of the modern world,” Fellowes said. There’s certainly enough possibility that the franchise could continue, looking at Lady Mary and her relatives, especially as the arrival of WWII looms in the future.

The “Downton Abbey” series earned 69 Emmy nominations during its run and won 15, with Smith winning three acting awards and the show taking home Outstanding Miniseries or Movie, along with awards for hair, production design, music composition, directing, writing, cinematography, and costumes. The first film grossed over $193 million worldwide.

IndieWire’s Kate Erbland wrote in her “B” review that “for all its frothiness, the film is not shy about grappling with some major moral questions, as many of its characters are forced to deal with nothing less than unpacking what is right and what is wrong, how those very labels are evolving, and where they want to fall in regards to them.”

A Focus Features release, “Downton Abbey: A New Era” is in theaters now.

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