The New 'Downton Abbey: A New Era' Trailer Goes Meta

The official Downton Abbey: A New Era poster
The official Downton Abbey: A New Era poster (Focus Features)

Even though Downton Abbey: A New Era has moved from mid-March to mid-May, fans are still super excited for a return to the House of Grantham. The fact that a sequel happened this fast in itself was miraculous enough; it seemed almost impossible that more Downton Abbey would arrive in theaters so soon. And the delays from Christmas to March to May also mean that Focus Features has to cut a new trailer with the latest release date, giving fans more pre-release footage to squeal over, along with all the hats, the dresses, and the scenery from the south of France.

But the new trailer doesn't just give a few more looks at Southern France and the Dowager Duchess' new villa. It also explains why the Crawleys find themselves heading out on vacation and where they're getting the money to travel. There's a new source of income the family has stumbled upon: Renting out their historic home to Hollywood for filming motion pictures in it. (I'm sure that Lord and Lady Carnarvon, the current residents of Downton Abbey's Highclere Castle, are pretty sympathetic to the experience.)

Filming in historic homes in the late 1920s wasn't a regular occurrence. Even films where the house is the star (think Hitchcock's Rebecca from 1940) used miniature model exteriors and sound stage interiors. But it did happen, though most of the well-known ones weren't for another decade like 1939's Gone With The Wind, filmed on location in the south on old plantations. As for Highclere Castle, it wasn't used as a movie set until Downton came along. However, the Carnarvons credit the income the decision generated as being instrumental in saving the building, which was in such disrepair it was no longer habitable in 2009. That means, (unlike the first film, which was based on an actual event), this is made up from whole cloth.

That doesn't mean it isn't fun, though. Check out the trailer.

Despite the new reveal, the film's synopsis remains stubbornly vague:

The much-anticipated cinematic return of the global phenomenon reunites the beloved cast as they go on a grand journey to the South of France to uncover the mystery of the Dowager Countess' newly inherited villa.

The entire core cast will return for Downton Abbey: A New Era: Hugh Bonneville, Laura Carmichael, Michelle Dockery, Matthew Goode, Harry Hadden-Paton, Allen Leech, Elizabeth McGovern, Maggie Smith, and Penelope Wilton return as the upstairs cast, with new additions Imelda Staunton and Tuppence Middleton as well. Jim Carter, Brendan Coyle, Kevin Doyle, Joanne Froggatt, Robert James-Collier, Phyllis Logan, Raquel Cassidy, Sophie McShera, and Lesley Nicols are back as the downstairs cast. Guest stars include Hugh Dancy, Laura Haddock, Nathalie Baye, Jonathan Zaccaï, and Dominic West.

Downton Abbey: A New Era debuts exclusively in theaters on Friday, May 20, 2022.