Downton Abbey 2 will include new cast members Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye and Dominic West
Downton Abbey
| Credit: PBS

Downton Abbey lives on!

The beloved period drama franchise, which originated with the hit TV series that then was adapted into a 2019 film, will return with a sequel movie that is set to hit the big screen on December 22, Focus Features announced Monday.

Downton Abbey 2 is expected to begin production this month and feature the return of the original movie's cast, which included Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith, Imelda Staunton and Penelope Wilton. The film will also feature new cast members Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye and Dominic West.

Creator Julian Fellows will once again write the film's screenplay and produce alongside Gareth Neame and Liz Trubridge. Simon Curtis will return to direct the sequel.

"After a very challenging year with so many of us separated from family and friends, it is a huge comfort to think that better times are ahead and that next Christmas we will be re-united with the much beloved characters of Downton Abbey," Neame said in a release.

Focus Features chairman Peter Kujawski added, "There's no place like home for the holidays, and we can't imagine a better gift than getting to reunite with Julian, Gareth, and the entire Downton family in 2021 to bring the Crawley's back home for their fans."

Dowton Abbey
| Credit: Jaap Buitendijk/Focus Features

The first Downton Abbey film, which was released in September 2019 in both the U.K. and the U.S., picked up in 1927, a couple of years after the show signed off. The movie depicts the elite Crawley family thrown into a dilemma when they realize they're going to need much more help when the King and Queen announce they're making a visit to the estate and nearby town.

The film grossed nearly $97 million at the domestic box office, becoming Focus Features' highest-grossing film of all time.

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The majority of the film's cast had returned from the hit PBS television series, which came to an end in 2015.

The critically acclaimed show, which took place in the early 20th century and followed the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who worked in their home, won three Golden Globe Awards and 15 Primetime Emmys during its six-season run.

Details of the second movie are still under wraps, but several cast members told PEOPLE in 2019 that they'd be open for a sequel.

"We would!" Dockery assured of her return.

Added Bonneville, "It's sort of a complete downer because there's not another one next week. There is an appetite and an affection for it that hopefully we can satisfy in the future."

Downton Abbey 2 is in theaters on December 22, 2021.