Focus Features and Carnival Films today announced the start of principle photography is due to begin on the Downton Abbey movie.  Already confirmed to return are the original principal cast from the acclaimed television series.  Joining the all-star cast will be Academy-Award® nominee and multi-award winning actress Imelda Staunton (Vera Drake, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Pride), starring alongside Geraldine James (Anne with an E, Beast), Simon Jones (The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy, Brideshead Revisited), David Haig (Killing Eve, Penny Dreadful), Tuppence Middleton (War and Peace, The Imitation Game), Kate Phillips (Peaky Blinders, The Crown) and Stephen Campbell Moore (History Boys, Lark Rise to Candleford), amongst others.

Academy-Award® winner Julian Fellowes who created Downton Abbey and wrote the film's screenplay will produce alongside Gareth Neame and Liz Trubridge.  Brian Percival (The Book Thief, About a Girl), who directed the series' pilot, will now executive produce the movie, with Michael Engler (30 Rock, Sex And The City) returning to direct.  Nigel Marchant will also return to executive produce.

RELATED: Can Rambo or Downton Abbey Steal Pennywise's Box Office Crown This Weekend?

The television series Downton Abbeyfollowed the lives of the Crawley family and the servants who worked for them at the turn of the 20th century in an Edwardian English country home.  Over its 6 seasons, the series garnered 3 Golden Globe Awards, 15 Primetime Emmy Awards, a Special BAFTA award and 69 Emmy nominations in total, making Downton Abbey the most nominated non-US television show in the history of the Emmys - even earning a Guinness World Record for the highest critically rated TV show along the way.

Gareth Neame, Carnival's Executive Chairman and the film's producer said this.

"We are excited that photography is about to start on the long awaited film and that the beloved main characters will be joined by such exceptional actors playing new roles unique to the movie."

The Downton Abbey movie is a Carnival Films production, with Focus Features and Universal Pictures International distributing. Focus Features acquires and produces specialty films for the global market, and holds a library of iconic movies from fearless filmmakers.  Current and upcoming domestic releases from Focus include Jason Reitman's new comedy Tully, starring Charlize Theron and written by Diablo Cody; Won't You Be My Neighbor?, director Morgan Neville's documentary on Mister Rogers; Lenny Abrahamson's atmospheric thriller The Little Stranger; Joel Edgerton's coming-of-age and coming-out drama Boy Erased, about a boy's true-life experience at a conversion therapy program, starring Lucas Hedges, Nicole Kidman and Russell Crowe; Mary, Queen of Scots with Saoirse Ronan as Mary and Margot Robbie as Elizabeth I; On the Basis of Sex, the real-life drama of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg staring Felicity Jones and Armie Hammer; Laure de Clermont-Tonnerre's directorial debut Mustang; and Spike Lee's new film BlacKkKlansman.

Focus is part of Universal Filmed Entertainment Group (UFEG), which produces, acquires, markets and distributes filmed entertainment worldwide in various media formats for theatrical, home entertainment, television and other distribution platforms, as well as consumer products, interactive gaming and live entertainment.  UFEG's global division also includes Universal Pictures, Universal Pictures Home Entertainment, Universal Brand Development, Fandango, DreamWorks Animation Film and Television and Awesomeness.  UFEG is part of NBCUniversal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience.  NBCUniversal owns and operates a valuable portfolio of news and entertainment networks, a premier motion picture company, significant television production operations, a leading television stations group, world-renowned theme parks and a suite of leading Internet-based businesses. NBCUniversal is a subsidiary of Comcast Corporation.For more information please visit www.focusfeatures.com.

International production company Carnival Films is a division of NBCUniversal International Studios and one of the world's leading drama producers. Founded in 1978 by Gareth Neame, the company produced all six seasons of award-winning Downton Abbey, and currently produces the hit Netflix series The Last Kingdom, and Sky One's Jamestown and Stan Lee's Lucky Man. Previous Carnival Films series include Poirot, Hotel Babylon, Whitechapel and Dracula, as well as award-winning mini-series such as Traffik, Any Human Heart, The Lost Honour of Christopher Jefferies and The Hollow Crown anthology.  Carnival has received a host of national and international honors in its 40-year history including Primetime Emmy Awards, Golden Globe Awards, BAFTA Awards and Producers Guild of America Awards, and has been recognized as the UK's best production company at both the Bulldog Awards and Broadcast Awards.

B. Alan Orange at Movieweb
B. Alan Orange