A sequel to the Downton Abbey movie is already in the works, producer Gareth Neame has admitted.
The big screen spin-off of the ITV costume drama starring Dame Maggie Smith and Matthew Goode - topped the US cinema box office chart in its opening weekend in September and has racked up global takings of £142 million ($184 million).
Neame told The Hollywood Reporter that storyline ideas for a follow-up film were already being drafted and admitted the idea of a sequel had been discussed before the first movie was even released.
He said: “We're having those conversations. We're working on what the story is, and when we might be able to make it. But it's the same as the first time around: We have to try to get everyone back together again. And that was very challenging.”
The chairman of Carnival Films added: “We started vaguely thinking about it before the release of the movie. But we were kind of holding our breath. The reaction to the film, the press tour in the U.S. and the buildup to release were so strong that we'd been thinking about it. And then it was clear from the first weekend that this was worth taking very seriously.”
Neame said the biggest challenge in making another film will be getting the cast of the hit TV show - which ended in 2015 - together due to their busy schedules.
He said: “It'll be smoother in one sense - that it's now hopefully a proven concept. It's not one of those shows that came from TV and then flopped in the cinema. So I think that will give everyone comfort that, yes, we know it works. But the challenge will be, is everyone available at the same time? Can we make deals with them? That will be the challenge.”
As well as stalwarts of Britsih TV such as Penelope Wilton, Jim Carter, Phyllis Logan and Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey also helped launch the careers of stars such Sophie McShera, Rose Leslie and Lily James.
The film reunited the majority of the TV cast, both upstairs and down, including Hugh Bonneville, Elizabeth McGovern and Michelle Dockery as Lord and Lady Crawley and Lady Mary, as well as Rob James-Collier as badboy butler Barrow and Lesley Nichol as cook Mrs Patmore.
The plot of the first film sees Downton Abbey hosting a visit from the King and Queen, which caused tensions among the servants as the royal staff tried to take over their duties.
The movie was scripted by Downton Abbey creator Julian Fellowes and filmed at England’s historic Highclere Castle, which has been the home of Downton since it began on TV in 2010.