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Simon Curtis
Hugh Bonneville, Jim Carter, Maggie Smith
Writing Credits:
Julian Fellowes

The Crawley family goes on a grand journey to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the dowager countess's newly inherited villa while a film crew uses Downton as a set.

Box Office:
$40 Million.
Opening Weekend
$16,000,495 on 3820 Screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated PG.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
Dolby Vision
English Dolby Atmos
Spanish Dolby 5.1
French Dolby 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 125 min.
Price: $44.98
Release Date: 7/5/2022

• Audio Commentary with Director Simon Curtis
• “Good to Be Back” Featurette
• “Return to Downton Abbey” Featurette
• “A Legendary Character” Featurette
• “Creating the Film Within the Film” Featurette
• “Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia” Featurette
• “Spill the Tea (Time)” Featurette
• Blu-ray Copy


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Dolby Vision Blu-ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


Downton Abbey: A New Era [4K UHD] (2022)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 6, 2022)

When the long-time TV series leapt to the big screen in 2019, Downton Abbey didn’t dazzle at the box office. However, with a mere $17 million budget, its $192 million worldwide meant it turned a tidy profit, one that prompted the release of 2022’s Downton Abbey: A New Era.

Set in 1928, the residents of the English estate called “Downton Abbey” find themselves aflutter when a movie crew requests the use of the property for a film shoot. Those in charge reluctantly agree to this to earn the needed funds to repair the property’s leaky roof.

In the meantime, elderly Dowager Countess Violet Crawley (Maggie Smith) reveals to her Downton family that she owns a villa in France given to her by the now-deceased Marquis de Montmirail. While the Downton staff deals with the film production, others head to France to visit this location.

As noted earlier, the 2019 Abbey film made a good chunk of change, but the sequel failed to approach its financial success. With a $40 million budget, it cost three times as much, but it only made $89 million worldwide, less than half of its predecessor’s take.

Given how many spring 2022 movies raked in boohoogles of bucks, I normally wouldn’t connect Era’s lackluster reception to the aftereffects of the COVID pandemic. However, Era appeals to an older audience, one that remains more cautious about health precautions.

This means COVID might have impacted box office in ways that it didn’t for more youth-oriented fare like Spider-Man: No Way Home and The Batman. Despite the iffy grosses, we might find a Downton 3 on screens at some point.

The 2019 film offered a complete snoozer, so I admit I didn’t much look forward to more time with the Downton characters. However, I thought perhaps a second chapter might prove more engaging, and a shift behind the camera offered hope.

Michael Engler directed the 2019 film, and he came from a heavy TV background. Of course, this didn’t mean he couldn’t handle a feature film as well, but his career really did largely revolve around the small screen.

Given the ways the two formats differ in their demands, it doesn’t seem illogical to think that Engler bit off much than he could chew with that move to multiplexes.

With Era, we find a new director, one with a much stronger big screen background. Simon Curtis also started in TV, but in 2011, he moved to theatrical films via My Week With Marilyn and he continued through efforts such as 2015’s Woman in Gold, 2017’s Goodbye Christopher Robin and 2019’s Art of Racing in the Rain.

On one hand, Curtis’s background as a feature director allowed me to think he would make a better movie out of this franchise than did Engler. On the other hand, all three of the Curtis movies I saw pre-Era seemed mediocre at best, so perhaps I shouldn’t raise those hopes too high.

The latter impulse proved correct. Curtis finds nothing fresh to do with the Downton property, so Era winds up as another dull cinematic experience.

Admittedly, Era appears to do little to attempt to win over a new audience. The film seems to assume only those who already love the TV show will see it, so we find ourselves inundated with a slew of characters who don’t make an impact on folks without that prior familiarity.

Does a movie adapted from TV need to explain the roles/situations for new viewers? No, but most flicks of this sort come with much smaller casts.

For instance, Sex and the City: The Movie only needed to acquaint neophytes with four main characters. Downton lacks any clear “main characters”, so we find ourselves spread thin among a couple dozen parts.

Again, this makes Era more likely to appeal to those who already love Downton than those with little exposure. That said, I can’t figure out what aspects of Era would work for them either, as it brings such a slow, dull experience.

Era comes with little actual plot. Instead, it concentrates on various melodramatic scenarios, character revelations and pithy one-liners.

This can feel like self-parody at times. The movie comes across as a cliché take on this “English aristocracy and their servants” theme, as it doesn’t find anything new to do with the themes.

We get a compilation of character interactions replete with trite concepts and choices. This feels oddly dull, as we get little actual passion or genuine emotion.

Because so many love Downton, I imagine the series must offer some pleasures that the movies lack. Heck, if I judged Sex and the City solely on its two films, I’d not understand the appeal, but the TV series could be pretty entertaining.

Unless I decide to watch Downton someday, I’ll just need to wonder if the TV show fares better than the films. All I know right now is that Era provides a slow, dull tale without a lot to make it worthwhile.

The Disc Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B-/ Bonus C+

Downton Abbey: A New Era appears in an aspect ratio of 2.39:1 on this 4K UHD Disc. The movie offered a fine Dolby Vision transfer.

Overall definition seemed positive. Virtually no softness popped up, so the movie appeared accurate and concise.

I noticed no signs of jaggies or edge enhancement, and shimmering was absent. The film lacked print flaws and seemed clean.

Many period pieces opt for subdued palettes, and that was true here. The colors tended toward teal tones, with a fair amount of amber and red along for the ride as well.

These appeared fine within the film’s stylistic choices. The disc’s HDR added warmth and range to the hues.

Blacks seemed dark and tight, and shadows demonstrated good clarity. HDR brought impact to whites and contrast. This added up to a satisfying presentation.

A character drama wouldn’t seem to be a candidate for a whiz-bang soundtrack, and the Dolby Atmos audio of Era fell into expected realms. Downconverted to Dolby TrueHD 7.1, a few scenes – mainly related to foul weather. – used the various channels well. Usually the track remained oriented toward ambience, though, so don’t expect lots of sizzle from the mix.

Audio quality satisfied. Although didn’t get much score, the music was full and rich, while effects showed nice clarity and accuracy.

Speech – obviously an important factor here – appeared concise and crisp. Nothing here soared, but it all seemed perfectly adequate for the project. Honestly, an Atmos mix felt like overkill for a project with such modest sonic ambitions.

How did the 4K UHD compare to the Blu-ray version? Both came with the same Atmos audio.

The 4K’s Dolby Vision image offered the expected improvements, as it seemed better defined and offered superior colors, blacks and contrast. This turned into a nice little upgrade.

As we shift to extras, we open with an audio commentary from director Simon Curtis. He offers a running, screen-specific look at story/characters, cast and performances, music, sets and locations, and connected domains.

A dull movie gets a pretty dull commentary, as Curtis fails to bring much depth to this chat. While he touches on some basics, he also throws out a lot of praise and leaves this as an uninspiring discussion.

Six featurettes follow, and Good to Be Back runs three minutes, 38 seconds. It offers notes from actors Michael Fox, Hugh Bonneville, Phyllis Logan, Tuppence Middleton, Allen Leech, Sophie McShera, Robert James-Collier, Laura Carmichael, Lesley Nicol, Elizabeth McGovern, Kevin Doyle, and Michelle Dockery.

All involved tell us they feel happy to return to Downton. This becomes an utterly superficial reel.

Return to Downton Abbey goes for 11 minutes, 37 seconds and involves Nicol, Middleton, Leech, Dockery, Curtis, Fox, Bonneville, McGovern, McShera, Carmichael, VFX supervisor Patricia Llaguno, home economist Debi Lindsay, historical advisor Alastair Bruce, producers Gareth Neame and Liz Trubridge, film historian Laraine Porter, costume designer Anna Mary Scott Robbins, hair and makeup designer Anne Nosh Oldham, production designer Donal Woods, co-producer Mark Hubbard, writer Julian Fellowes, and actor Charlie Watson.

“Return” looks at the film’s opening wedding and basics about the shoot. While superior to the useless “Back”, this still becomes only a sporadically informative show.

With A Legendary Character, we get a four-minute, 10-second reel that features Neame, Dockery, Bonneville, McGovern, Fox, Carmichael, Leech, Fellowes, Curtis, and actor Penelope Wilton.

Here we get gobs of praise for actor Maggie Smith. While I agree that Smith is a terrific actor, this nonetheless becomes a tedious featurette.

Creating the Film Within the Film spans nine minutes, 26 seconds and brings remarks from Neame, Bruce, McShera, Nicol, Doyle, Fox, Woods, Curtis, James-Collier, Dockery, Porter, action vehicles coordinator Michael Geary, specialist action props camera supervisor Lee Martin, supporting artist Doug Kirby, costume co-designer Maja Meschede and actor Alex MacQueen.

As expected, the reel examines aspects of the “movie shoot” that takes place at Downton during Era. A few interesting notes about historical accuracy result, but the end result lacks a whole lot of depth. I do like James-Collier’s amusing self-deprecation, though.

Next comes Her Majesty’s Yacht Britannia, a two-minute, 53-second clip that provides notes from Fox, Bruce, supervising location manager Mark Ellis and Royal Yacht Britannia & Fingal Director of Marketing Casey Rust.

Unsurprisingly, “Yacht” covers the location discussed in its title. This becomes a brief and mildly informative piece.

Finally, Spill the Tea (Time) fills two minutes, 23 seconds with comments from Carmichael and Leech. They go through a tongue-in-cheek Q&A with some amusement value.

The package also includes a Blu-ray copy of Era. It offers the same extras as the 4K.

Clearly many people enjoy Downton Abbey, but I admit that after two movies, I fail to see the appeal. A New Era seems unlikely to bring new converts, as it offers a slow, tedious affair. The 4K UHD brings positive picture and audio along with a mix of bonus materials. Perhaps a third Downton film might change my mind, but the first two leave me cold.

To rate this film visit the prior review of DOWNTON ABBEY: A NEW ERA

Review Archive:  # | A-C | D-F | G-I | J-L | M-O | P-R | S-U | V-Z | Viewer Ratings | Main