Downton Abbey fans have only one more week before the finale, at which point they will surely grieve and groan en masse.
But the rumor mill has offered one tantalizing hint of hope: the much-hoped for, much speculated Downton Abbey movie may actually be happening, Show Biz 411 reported Saturday.
The news comes with few details, except that executive producers Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame are currently in negotiations for a very encouraging reason.
According to this rumor, both Fellowes and Neame are in a bit of a rush because they’d like to start the film right away while all of the actors required are still available.
Closing the Downton Abbey story with a movie is considered a fitting end to the saga, seeing as it began on the silver screen. The show has been considered an offshoot of Fellowes’ 2001 movie Gosford Park, a very different type of story, but one which also features the upstairs/downstairs dynamic of the British upper crust.
— Entertainment Weekly (@EW) February 28, 2016
Last November, when British fans of the series were in the same place that American fans are now — eagerly awaiting the finale — The Telegraph discussed the potential movie, its likelihood of going forward, and possible storylines.
Neame revealed earlier last year that he was “very interested” in doing a film; he had “no objections, because the film would be another adventure. But [he] can’t confirm that it’s definitely going to happen. It would take a lot of planning and thinking about. We shall see.”
The Downton team had apparently “thrown around some ideas” for a movie, but those ideas were being kept under wraps.
Of course, the problem with continuing the story on the big screen is that fans will expect to see their favorite characters and for the film to be just like the show. For that reason, Fellowes was tentative about making a Downton Abbey movie in 2015. He was worried that it would simply be disappointing.
“In my experience, and naming no names, the movie of the series is often a disappointment. Normally they’re not very good because the film producer says, ‘Oh, it’s not going to be anything like the series,’ and of course what you want is for it to be exactly like the series. I hope we would avoid that error in doing one, but I do have mixed feelings about it.”
With this latest news, it appears as though his misgivings could have flown out the window.
The speculation last year maintained that the movie wouldn’t take place in the same era as the series. Downton Abbey, of course, is set on an English estate before, during, and after World War I and into the Roaring Twenties. A film would take place well after that, possibly when Lady Mary’s son George, Lady Sybil’s daughter Sybbie, and Lady Edith’s daughter Marigold are all grown up.
That means the movie could fast forward to the 1950s or 1960s. Naeme has an interesting reason for wanting to forward the timeline by decades.
“I’m interested in the fact that George, Marigold and Sybbie could just about still be alive today if you think about it, which is a really good way to show how we’re connected to this era. It’s just about within living memory. I am interested to know what happens when George is running the estate, in the… whenever it is, 1950s, Sixties or something.”
English bookmakers have already calculated the likelihood of a Downton Abbey movie, declaring last year that it was only a “matter of time” before it would be released.
When the curtain falls on Mary and Edith, Robert and Cora, Violet and Isobel, and all the loose ends are tied up — and Mrs. Hughes herself, Phyllis Logan, assures fans that they will be — Downton Abbey devotees need not despair.
— Vermont PBS (@VermontPBS) February 27, 2016
Though the series finale has already aired in England, and the closing plot can easily be spoiled online, the cast isn’t revealing a thing to American audiences. In the latest Masterpiece Studio podcast, Logan, Lesley Nichol (Mrs. Patmore), Joanne Froggatt (Anna Bates), and Jim Carter (Mr. Carson) say very little, Entertainment Weekly added.
Michelle Dockery, who plays Lady Mary, calls it a “real number,” and Nichols says “lots of very touching things will be happening.” And just like his staunch, by-the-book character Mr. Carson would do, Carter is even more tight-lipped.
“The way television works, people watch and they get excited about the story. But if some idiot from Yorkshire’s told them the story beforehand, it ruins that pleasure. And then they come looking for that idiot and persecute him. So I don’t want to be in that position.”
For exclusive images of the finale, click here.
[Photo By Frazer Harrison/Getty Images]