Talk about a very special screening!
As the long-awaited Downton Abbey movie arrived in theaters on Thursday, several of the film’s biggest stars surprised an audience full of fans in Los Angeles.
Michelle Dockery, Elizabeth McGovern, Allen Leech and Hugh Bonneville were all on hand at the Landmark theater on Thursday, as was director Michael Engler, creator Julian Fellowes and producer Gareth Neame.
“It’s opening night of the Downton Abbey film here in LA and me and my friends are here to surprise an audience,” Dockery, 37, shared in an Instagram Story from moments before the big reveal, as she squeezed between two of her costars.
“Don’t tell them!” she playfully added.
Making things even more exciting, the group didn’t all come onstage at once!
Entering one or two at a time, each successive arrival was greeted with a thunderous burst of applause from the crowd.
Once the entire group was together onstage, they decided to commemorate the special evening by raising a glass to their fans — and then turning around to take a group selfie with them.
The movie picks up 15 years after the story first started and follows as the Abbey prepares for a visit from King George V and Queen Mary.
Although fans have been eagerly awaiting the film, bringing the Emmy Award-winning series to the silver screen put some pressure on its stars.
“We all felt the obligation to make it big and bold enough for the cinema. That was the biggest difference,” Leech, 38, recently told PEOPLE. “We all came with the attitude and wanting this to be an epic experience and a more lavish, luxurious experience for the fans.”
Seemingly hinting at a future sequel, Bonneville added: “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 is in theaters now.