Two Blackhawks fans turn arena entertainment into a Christmas movie

A kiss cam at sporting events can be awkward, romantic, funny, and festive. Perhaps that’s why it inspired a now made-for-TV romantic comedy, the genre that unabashedly embraces all of these traits.

In the “Merry Kiss Cam” that airs on Hulu, entertainer Jess (Katie Lowes) and bartender Danny (Jesse Bradford) meet over the holidays. He takes her to see the local college hockey team, who are stuck in a losing rut. She believes a Zamboni is “a horn you blow when someone scores.”

They end up on the video board of the camera kiss. She takes the moment to put one on. The home team scores the game on the spot and wins it. Suddenly, they are known as the “Lucky Lips” couple, and the entire town’s collegiate sports superstition relates them to their husband and their constant participation in Kiss Cam.

Maya Boudreau, who wrote the film with her husband Evan D. Watkins.

“I think it brings in new viewership that you might not see a holiday rom-com,” she said. “You come for the hockey, and you stay for the heart of it. And I think that’s cool.”

When Boudreau and Watkins were dating in Chicago, the book went out to the bar at the Four Seasons in Chicago around Christmas. The Chicago Blackhawks game was on. They kissed. The Blackhawks immediately scored a goal.

An old gentleman from Chicago behind us was like, ‘Kiss it again, good luck guys! And we looked at each other and were like, ‘This is a Christmas movie,'” she said. “I’m from Chicago, so I definitely know the neurosis of Cubs fans and Blackhawks fans.”

The pair wrote their script on spec and focused on the Blackhawks but knew that NHL involvement “gets complicated with licensing and everything,” Watkins said. He ended up in Duluth, Minnesota, thanks to that city’s tax incentives for filming. They made another swipe at the script, naming the team the “Duluth Snowhawks” before striking a deal with the University of Minnesota Duluth to center the story around the NCAA men’s hockey fanbase.

The team in the movie stinks. Minnesota-Duluth made the Frozen Four last season. Ah, the magic of movies.

“I’ve seen people on Twitter say, ‘The Bulldogs are awesome! Are they crazy?'” “But you have to take a little creative license,” Watkins said.

The kiss cam was the perfect medium for a good luck kiss because it is a public forum.

“Their relationship isn’t just their relationship, it’s their relationship with the bigger city. If they become a lucky charm, there are high stakes in that. If their relationship starts to fizzle out, the fans are the driving force behind them,” said Watkins.

The kiss camera has received some criticism over the years. Its focus on heterosexual couples has been called out. Teams like the New York Mets have ended the practice of using anti-gay kissing cameras. The “Merry Kiss Cam” shows gay and non-binary fans having their moment on the video board, something Watkins and Boudreau included in their original script.

“We wanted everyone to be represented, in all kinds of relationships and things,” said Watkins.

The film plays with other machinations of the kiss camera. For example, it is not only seen inside the ring, but has been featured as part of the TV broadcast, as fans in Danny’s bar watch the “Lucky Lips” couple during a play break. But Watkins thinks they can come out on top. “All you need is some company sponsoring the kiss cam as direct advertising,” he said.

Hey, if a kiss cam can inspire a holiday rom-com, why not?

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