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'Merry Kiss Cam,' holiday movie filmed in Duluth, to hit Hulu on Thanksgiving

The romantic comedy about a couple who meet at a hockey game was entirely filmed on location locally. Production insider Riki McManus described it as "a love story to Duluth."

“Merry Kiss Cam” director Lisa France, right, breaks out into laughter after a person leaned into a shot while the crew filmed a scene
“Merry Kiss Cam” director Lisa France, right, broke out into laughter after a person leaned into a shot while the crew filmed a scene on the main floor of the Radisson Hotel in Duluth in June.
Jed Carlson / 2022 file / Superior Telegram
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DULUTH — Hulu viewers looking for a hit of holiday happiness will be setting their sights on Duluth this season. "Merry Kiss Cam," a romantic comedy set during the Christmas season, will premiere on the streaming service on Thanksgiving Day, Nov. 24.

It's a quick turnaround for the production, which came to Duluth just this past June for principal photography. Producer Mandy June Turpin discovered the city through the Catalyst Content Festival, and decided to make the movie in Duluth even though the script originally had the story set in Chicago.

Last week's Catalyst Content Festival convened independent television creators and industry professionals from across the country, but shone a special spotlight on the Northland.

The movie stars Katie Lowes ("Inventing Anna") and Jesse Bradford (Kirsten Dunst's love interest from "Bring It On") as two strangers who meet at a hockey game. They're unexpectedly spotlit on a "kiss cam," prompting them to lock lips.

Filming locations included Fitger's, Lincoln Park, the Essentia Duluth Heritage Center, the Radisson Hotel and Carmody Irish Pub. In fact, Bradford's character's surname was changed to Carmody to fit the setting.

"They're putting a lot of our local businesses, a lot of Duluth, up on the big screen," said Riki McManus of the Upper Midwest Film Office while the movie was being made. "I almost think of this as a love story to Duluth."

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Even as the premiere was announced, Turpin was moving forward with another Duluth-made movie project. "Body Language" is in front of cameras this month, with filming locations including downtown Duluth.

For more information on Hulu and its release schedule, see Hulu.com. For more information on current and future film production in the Northland, see uppermidwestfilmtv.com.

Like many holiday films, the feature was shot in the summertime. Yes, that meant making fake snow — in Duluth.

Related Topics: MOVIESDULUTH
Arts and entertainment reporter Jay Gabler joined the Duluth News Tribune in February 2022. His previous experience includes eight years as a digital producer at The Current (Minnesota Public Radio), four years as theater critic at Minneapolis alt-weekly City Pages, and six years as arts editor at the Twin Cities Daily Planet. He's a co-founder of pop culture and creative writing blog The Tangential; and a member of the National Book Critics Circle. You can reach him at jgabler@duluthnews.com or 218-279-5536.
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