It's time to return to Downton Abbey. The long-hyped movie is actually happening! The entire cast is expected to return for the film. Production is scheduled to begin during the summer of 2018. A release date has yet to be announced.

You know what this means? More Dowager Countess burns!

Series creator Julian Fellowes is writing the script and will serve as executive producer alongside Gareth Neame, Liz Trubridge and Nigel Marchant. Brian Percival, the director of the show's original pilot, is on board to direct the movie.

"When the television series drew to a close it was our dream to bring the millions of global fans a movie and now, after getting many stars aligned, we are shortly to go into production," Neame said in a statement. "Julian's script charms, thrills and entertains and in Brian Percival's hands we aim to deliver everything that one would hope for as Downton comes to the big screen."

Downton Abbey

Nick Briggs

Discussion of a movie happened even before the series officially wrapped up. In 2015, ahead of the series finale, Neame said there was interest in bringing the famous Crawley family back to life on the big screen.

"Our position on that is we would be very interested in that. It is definitely something we're contemplating. It would be great fun to do. I think it would be a wonderful extension of everything that people loved about the TV show, but I can't confirm that it's definitely going to happen," Neame said. "We shall see."

Downton Abbey became a crossover hit in the United States and United Kingdom, running for six years on ITV in the UK and PBS in the US. The series starred a sprawling ensemble cast that included, but was not limited to Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmicahel, Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Michelle Dockery, Joanne Froggatt, Phyllis Logan, Rob James-Collier, Rose Leslie, Elizabeth McGovern, Lesley Nicol, Maggie Smith, Penelope Wilton, Lily James, Allen Leech and Matthew Goode.

In a press release, Focus Features said the original principal cast will return.

Over its six-year run, Downton Abbey won three Golden Globes, 15 Emmys, and a special BAFTA award.

"Since the series ended, fans of Downton have long been waiting for the Crawley family's next chapter," Focus chairman Peter Kujawski said in a statement.  "We're thrilled to join this incredible group of filmmakers, actors and craftspeople, led by Julian Fellowes and Gareth Neame, in bringing back the world of Downton to the big screen."

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