M'lords and ladies, you are cordially invited to attend a night at the movies with the residents and staff of "Downton Abbey."
"Welcome back to Downton!" read the proclamation on Twitter. "We're thrilled to announce that #DowntonAbbey is coming to the big screen. Film production begins this summer."
The popular PBS series about a family of British aristocrats, their household servants and their ornately appointed estate is returning with the principal cast intact. Stars committed to the reunion include Hugh Bonneville, Michelle Dockery and the inimitable Dame Maggie Smith, 83, a two-time Emmy Award winner for her portrayal of the sharp-witted Dowager Countess, Violet Crawley.
"Downton Abbey" creator Julian Fellowes has written the screenplay, which will be directed by Brian Percival, who helmed the series pilot and several episodes.
"Julian's script charms, thrills and entertains," said producer Gareth Neame in a statement, "and in Brian Percival's hands we aim to deliver everything that one would hope for as Downton comes to the big screen."
No word yet on the plot or the prospective premiere date.
"Downton Abbey" ran for six seasons on PBS, from 2011 to 2016. A hit with critics and TV viewers alike, the melodrama earned a total of 69 Emmy Award nominations—a record for a series produced outside the United States. It won 15 times, including the Emmy for Outstanding Miniseries or Movie in 2011.