Downton Abbey (film)

Downton Abbey is a 2019 historical drama film written by Julian Fellowes, creator and writer of the television series of the same name,[7] and directed by Michael Engler. The film is produced by Carnival Films and Perfect World Pictures, and continues the storyline from the series, with much of the original cast returning.[8] The film, set in 1927, depicts a visit by the King and Queen to the Crawley family's English country house in the Yorkshire countryside. As the Royal staff descend on Downton, an assassin has also arrived and attempts to kill the monarch. The family and servants are pitted against the royal entourage, including the Queen's lady-in-waiting, who has fallen out with the Crawleys, especially the Dowager Countess, over an inheritance issue.

Downton Abbey
Theatrical release poster
Directed byMichael Engler
Produced by
Screenplay byJulian Fellowes
Based onDownton Abbey
by Julian Fellowes
Music byJohn Lunn
CinematographyBen Smithard
Edited byMark Day
Distributed by
Release date
  • 9 September 2019 (2019-09-09) (Leicester Square)
  • 13 September 2019 (2019-09-13) (United Kingdom)
  • 20 September 2019 (2019-09-20) (United States)
Running time
122 minutes
  • United Kingdom
  • United States
Budget$13–20 million[3][4]
Box office$194.3 million[5][6]

Gareth Neame and Fellowes started planning a feature adaptation in 2016, shortly after the series ended. It was officially confirmed in July 2018 and filming began later that month, lasting through November. The film was released in the United Kingdom on 13 September 2019 by Universal Pictures, and in the United States on 20 September 2019 by Focus Features.[9] It received generally positive reviews from critics and grossed $194 million worldwide.


In 1927 (around a year and a half after the final events shown in the TV series), Buckingham Palace informs Robert and Cora Crawley, the Earl and Countess of Grantham, that King George V and Queen Mary will visit Downton Abbey during a royal tour through Yorkshire. Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, is perturbed that Maud, Lady Bagshaw, who is Queen Mary's lady-in-waiting, will be included in the tour. Robert is Maud's cousin and closest relative, and the two families have long disputed who should inherit Maud's estate.

The royal household staff arrive first. They include Mr Wilson, the Royal Page of the Backstairs; Mrs Webb, the Royal Housekeeper; Miss Lawton, the Queen's Royal Dresser; Monsieur Courbet, the Royal Chef; and Richard Ellis, the King's Royal Dresser. All but Ellis are dismissive and arrogant to the Downton servants. Upstairs, eldest Crawley daughter Lady Mary Talbot, the estate manager, constantly worries about keeping Downton afloat in a fast-changing world. Believing Mr Barrow unable to manage a royal visit, Mary asks Mr Carson, Downton's retired butler, to temporarily resume his duties. Barrow, strongly protesting, steps aside.

A man, Major Chetwode, arrives in Downton Village seeking out the Granthams' Irish son-in-law, Tom Branson. Tom believes Chetwode is a detective assessing security for the royal visit.

The royal entourage completely displaces the Downton household. Meanwhile, Tom and Lucy Smith, Lady Maud's maid, form a mutual attraction. Bertie and Edith Pelham, the Marquess and Marchioness of Hexham, also arrive at Downton. The King asks Bertie to accompany the Prince of Wales on a three-month African tour. The news distresses Lady Edith, the younger Crawley daughter, who tells Bertie she is pregnant and is due just as Bertie would depart. Prior to the royal parade starting through Downton Village, Chetwode stations himself near where the King is awaiting the Royal Artillery, unaware that Tom has grown suspicious. As Chetwode aims a pistol at King George, Tom tackles Chetwode, pinning him to the ground. The genuine royal detectives apprehend Chetwode, an Irish Republican sympathiser who erroneously assumed Tom was an ally.

After the parade, Tom encounters a sobbing woman on Downton's lawn, unaware she is Princess Mary. He initiates a conversation, cheering her up. Meanwhile, Anna discovers Miss Lawton is stealing small objects from Downton Abbey. She demands their return, then blackmails Lawton into altering an over-sized ballgown to fit Lady Edith after the wrong dress was mistakenly delivered to Downton.

Anna and John Bates unite the staff into retaking control downstairs to defend Downton's honour. Barrow and Mr Ellis trick Mr Wilson into sending some royal household staff back to London. Anna slips a strong sleeping aid into Courbet's tea, and Mr Wilson is "accidentally" locked inside his bedroom, allowing Mrs Patmore and Daisy to prepare the dinner, and Mr Carson and the Downton footmen to wait at table. When the King praises the revised menu, Molesley impulsively blurts out that the Downton staff prepared the meal and are serving it. Robert apologises for Molesley's inappropriate outburst, but the Queen says they are accustomed to people behaving oddly around them.

That same evening, Barrow and Ellis go to York. While Ellis visits his parents, Barrow waits at a local pub. A man there invites Barrow to a hidden gay nightclub. Shortly after Barrow arrives, police raid the club. Ellis, who is secretly gay, discovers what happened and uses his royal connection to secure Barrow's release. Afterwards, the two men develop a bond, indicating they will meet again.

Back at Downton, as the inheritance conflict escalates, Isobel, Lady Merton, surmises correctly that Lucy is Maud's secret illegitimate daughter, and the reason she is Maud's heir. She tells Maud she must inform Violet. The next morning, assistant cook Daisy, who doubted if footman Andy was the right man for her, realises she does love him and begins planning their wedding. Henry Talbot, Mary's husband, returns from abroad in time to accompany the family to Harewood House with the royal party.

During the ball at Harewood, Princess Mary informs her parents that Tom inspired her to remain with her husband, prompting the King to personally thank him. Also, the Queen has persuaded the King to release Bertie from the imminent tour. Maud tells Violet about Lucy. Violet immediately schemes to unite the two households through Lucy and Tom when told they intend to correspond. Mary privately queries her grandmother regarding her recent trip to London. Violet confides that medical tests have revealed she may die soon, but she assures a distraught Mary that Downton's legacy is safe in her hands. Tom later seeks out Lucy on the terrace and dances with her.

Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes ponder Downton's future in the modern era. Carson asserts it will stand for another hundred years with the Crawley family still in residence.



Highclere Castle, the site used as the fictional Downton Abbey estate.


The original television series, Downton Abbey, ended in 2015, after 52 episodes[10][11][12] with its final episode set at New Year's Eve, 1925.[13] In April 2016, it was revealed that a film adaptation was being considered,[14] with Julian Fellowes working on an outline plot.[15] A script was distributed to original cast members early in 2017.[16][17]

On 13 July 2018, the producers confirmed that a feature-length film would be made,[18] with production commencing mid-2018.[19][12] The script was written by Fellowes. The producers are Gareth Neame, Liz Trubridge and Fellowes.[20] The film is distributed by Focus Features and Universal Pictures International.[21] In late August 2018, it was reported that Brian Percival had stepped down as director and Michael Engler took on this job. Percival, in addition to Nigel Marchant, would be an executive producer.[22][23]

The plot of the film is based on an actual trip by the British royals to Wentworth Woodhouse in 1912 in order to demonstrate the importance of the monarchy. The estate itself was used as part of the shooting locations because of the story's link to that history.[24]


Original cast members including Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern, Michelle Dockery, Laura Carmichael and Maggie Smith, were confirmed to return as their characters from the series,[20][25] with Joanne Froggatt confirming her involvement in a separate announcement.[26] Lily James, who played Lady Rose MacClare, stated she would not be reprising her role for the film,[27][28] as did Ed Speleers who played footman Jimmy Kent.[29]

An August 2018 announcement indicated that newcomers Imelda Staunton, Geraldine James, Tuppence Middleton, Simon Jones, David Haig, Kate Phillips, and Stephen Campbell Moore would be among the cast of the film.[23] The producers told the news media that Simon Jones and Geraldine James play the King and Queen, respectively (although not shown in the trailer), while David Haig appears as the King's butler.[30]

In September 2018, it was confirmed that Matthew Goode, who played Lady Mary's husband Henry Talbot in the final series, appears only briefly due to other commitments,[31] while Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Kevin Doyle, Harry Hadden-Paton, Rob James-Collier, Allen Leech, Phyllis Logan, Sophie McShera, Lesley Nicol and Penelope Wilton were confirmed to be reprising their respective roles, with Max Brown joining in a new, undisclosed role.[32][33]


Costumes were designed by Anna Mary Scott Robbins working with John Bright of the costume company COSPROP in London, which specialises in historic, period costumes.[34] The company has some of Queen Mary's real wardrobe, studied for details of construction.[34] Geraldine James' Queen Mary costume was constructed using material from one of the Queen's actual dresses.[34] During the Ball scene, both Michelle Dockery and Elizabeth McGovern wore vintage dresses that were embellished with additional work. Dockery's beaded French gown had beads lengthened to the floor by hand. While Michelle Dockery wears Swarovski crystals in her tiara, Maggie Smith's is a 19th-century platinum piece[34] from Bentley & Skinner of Piccadilly jewellers by Royal appointment[35] with 16.5 carats of diamonds. Smith's ball gown was found in a vintage shop in Paris and dye was used to alter the turquoise colour to lilac.[34]


Principal photography started in London in late August 2018.[36][23] By 20 September, some filming was under way at Highclere Castle, Hampshire, which had been the main location for the television series.[37][38] Also in September, filming was under way in Lacock, Wiltshire, with Dame Maggie Smith, Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern and Michelle Dockery as well as two new cast members, Imelda Staunton (wife of Jim Carter) and Geraldine James; scenes shot in Lacock included a celebration with horses from the Royal Artillery.[39] Exterior scenes set in York were filmed on location at Beamish Museum, complete with operational trams.[40] The Heritage Railways scenes were filmed on the North Yorkshire Moors Railway with Pickering terminus representing Kings Cross. The Royal Mail Sorting Office Coach was borrowed from the Great Central Railway at Loughborough. Filming concluded in November 2018.[41]


Downton Abbey
Soundtrack album by
Released13 September 2019
GenreSoundtrack album
Film score
LabelDecca Gold
Decca Records
Universal Music Canada
ProducerJohn Lunn

Downton Abbey is the film's soundtrack album and musical score album of the same name, composed by John Lunn, conducted and orchestrated by Alastair King, edited by Mark Willsher and performed by The Chamber Orchestra of London with additional music composed by Chris Egan and prepared by Tristan Noon, while the music for the film's trailer was composed by David James Rosen. It was released on 13 September 2019 on CD, digital download and vinyl by Decca Gold, Decca Records and Universal Music Canada.

All music is composed by John Lunn.

1."A Royal Command"4:49
2."Pillar of the Establishment"1:48
3."Gleam and Sparkle"2:48
4."God Is a Monarchist"3:02
5."Two Households"5:00
6."Incident at a Parade"2:57
9."Honour Restored"2:39
10."Never Seen Anything Like It"2:27
11."Not Entirely a Bad Night"2:59
12."May I?"3:08
13."Taking Leave"2:26
15."You Are the Best of Me"2:44
16."Sunset Waltz"3:51
17."One Hundred Years of Downton"5:13
Total length:53:07


A companion book and guide to the feature film was available for pre-orders as early as August 2019 to be published on 17 September,[42] that is a behind the scenes look at the film production.[43][44] The film was released in Australia on 12 September 2019, in the United Kingdom on 13 September 2019, and in the United States on 20 September 2019.[45] It premiered at Leicester Square on 9 September 2019.[46]

Box officeEdit

Downton Abbey grossed $96.9 million in the United States and Canada, and $97.4 million in other territories, for a worldwide total of $194.2 million.[5][6] Deadline Hollywood calculated the net profit of the film to be $88 million, when factoring together all expenses and revenues.[47]

Several weeks before its release in the United States, Fandango announced Downton Abbey's first day advanced ticket sales were pacing ahead of all other adult dramas in 2019, including Once Upon a Time in Hollywood ($41.1 million debut that July).[48][49] A week prior to its release the film held advanced screenings, where it made $2.2 million.[50] Overall, it was originally projected to gross $16–25 million from 3,076 theaters in its opening weekend.[3] After making $13.8 million on its first day, including $2.1 million from Thursday night previews, estimates were raised to $31 million. It went on to debut to $31 million, topping the box office and marking the largest opening in Focus Features' history.[4] The film made $14.5 million in its second weekend, finishing second behind newcomer Abominable, then $7.9 million in its third, finishing third.[51][52]


Critical responseEdit

At the review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 84% based on 242 reviews, with an average rating of 6.88/10. The website's critics consensus reads: "Downton Abbey distills many of the ingredients that made the show an enduring favorite, welcoming fans back for a fittingly resplendent homecoming."[53] On Metacritic the film has a weighted average score of 64 out of 100, based on reviews from 42 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".[54] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "A" on an A+ to F scale, while those at PostTrak gave it an average 4.5 out of 5 stars and a 72% "definite recommend".[4]

June Thomas writing for Slate praised the film, writing: "The plot of the Downton Abbey movie is brilliant, not so much because it is surprising, but because it allows every member of the cast to do what we expect of them".[55] In a more lukewarm reaction, Peter Bradshaw, writing for The Guardian, said: "The Downton Abbey movie is not as spectacularly star-studded as Gosford Park, but it's got its share of A-list talent, however: Maggie Smith, of course, as the dowager Countess of Grantham, Hugh Bonneville as Lord Grantham (absent-mindedly fondling his retriever at breakfast) – there's also Imelda Staunton in a new role and Jim Carter as the beetle-browed former butler Mr Carson. All are very underused".[56]

Writing in the British publication Radio Times, Eleanor Bley Griffiths writes that Downton the film is "frankly disappointing". She explains that "What the film lacks is any sense of real jeopardy. As we found out from the trailer, the big plot-line is this: the King and Queen are coming to dinner and Downton must be made perfect! But that simple story is stretched out to a full two hours of incredibly low-stakes, predictable drama with an overabundance of sub-plots". Griffiths goes on to unfavourably compare the new film with the TV series: "On TV, there was time to explore different threads and highlight specific characters as the series went on; but the movie gives us a whole series-worth of storylines draped over one lacklustre main plot".[57]

Popular cultureEdit

The cast and crew were featured in a short interview segment on PBS public television on 20 September 2019, as recognition of the influence which the film and related series have had on American popular culture.[58]

Awards, accolades and nominationsEdit

List of awards, accolades and nominations
Year Award Category Nominee Result
2020 Movies for Grownups Award Best Supporting Actress Maggie Smith Nominated
2020 Movies for Grownups Award Best Ensemble Downton Abbey Nominated
2020 Movies for Grownups Award Readers' Choice Downton Abbey Nominated
2020 EDA Special Mention Award Actress Defying Age and Ageism Maggie Smith Nominated
2020 Awards Circuit Community Award Best Costume Design Anna Robbins Nominated
2020 Critics' Choice Movie Award Best Production Design Donal Woods
Gina Cromwell
2020 Critics' Choice Movie Award Best Costume Design Anna Robbins Nominated
2020 CinEuphoria Award Best Supporting Actress - International Competition Maggie Smith Nominated
2020 CinEuphoria Award Best Ensemble - International Competition Hugh Bonneville
Laura Carmichael
Jim Carter
Michelle Dockery
Joanne Froggatt
Robert James-Collier
Allen Leech
Elizabeth McGovern
Maggie Smith
Imelda Staunton
2020 CDG Award Excellence in Period Film Anna Robbins Nominated
2020 GLAAD Media Award Outstanding Film - Wide Release Downton Abbey Nominated
2020 Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Award Best Period and/or Character Hair Styling - Feature-Length Motion Picture Anne Oldham
Elaine Browne
Marc Pilcher
2020 Hollywood Makeup Artist and Hair Stylist Guild Award Best Period and/or Character Makeup - Feature-Length Motion Picture Anne Oldham
Elaine Browne
Sam Smart
2019 Hollywood Film Award Costume Designer of the Year Anna Robbins Won
2019 SDFCS Award Best Costume Design Anna Robbins Nominated
2019 SDFCS Award Best Production Design Donal Woods Nominated
2019 SDFCS Award Best Ensemble Downton Abbey Nominated
2019 Satellite Award Best Costume Design Anna Robbins Nominated
2019 Seattle Film Critics Award Best Costume Design Anna Robbins Nominated


After the release of the film, the creator Julian Fellowes and the cast stated that they already have ideas about doing a sequel.[59]


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External linksEdit