There’s a “March Madness”-type contest involving Hallmark Christmas movies now

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There’s a “March Madness”-type contest involving Hallmark Christmas movies now

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Ricardo Hubbs/Ricardo Hubbs
A scene from the 2016 Hallmark movie, "Every Christmas Has a Story." It's one of 64 holiday movies facing off in Hallmark's "Meow Madness Christmas Movie Bracket." Credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

Finally! All those hours (and hours and hours) of watching Hallmark Channel holiday movies are about to pay off.

To the tune of up to $10,000 .

Hallmark, whose commitment to airing tinsel-tossed romantic Christmas flicks keeps growing like Santa’s belly after an all-night cookie binge, launches its first ever “Meow Madness Christmas Movie Bracket” this weekend.

Borrowing a page from a certain college basketball tournament that gets underway each year around this time, Hallmark’s competition sorts 64 movies into four different “regions.” Fans fill out brackets where rounds of head-to-head faceoffs winnow contenders down until only one champion is left standing.

The winning movie will be announced on April 3, the same day that the national championship basketball game is played (Hallmark’s press materials don’t specifically mention the NCAA or “March Madness” by name anywhere, just in case you were wondering).

Last year’s college hoops champ was Villanova. This year’s Hallmark champ, which will be announced on April 3, may turn out to be . . . who knows? “A Cookie Cutter Christmas” perhaps? Or maybe “Ice Sculpture Christmas?” Or how about “Fir Crazy?”

Speaking of crazy, Hallmark knows exactly what it’s doing by riding its holiday movie wave of success like a magic sleigh pulled by eight tiny reindeer. In 2016,  it started airing holiday movies round-the-clock on both its Hallmark and Hallmark Movies & Mysteries cable channels on October 28th. When this “Countdown to Christmas” programming event finally ended 64 days later, a whopping 85 million people had tuned in.

That was up from 80 million the previous year, when the Countdown “only” ran for  61 straight days. It was also good enough to make Hallmark the No. 1 cable channel in the coveted demographic of women aged 25 to 54.

Brackets will be available at www.hallmarkchannel.com/meow-madness beginning this Sunday, March 12. Entering a bracket offers a chance to win as much as $10,000.

But you can go to the web site now and find out which movies are in which region, and also check out photos and other materials that could help refresh your memory about the plot of “A Princess for Christmas.” Not to be confused with “A Royal Christmas.” Or “Crown for Christmas.”

It’s not entirely clear yet what role kittens will play in this event beyond the “Meow Madness” title. But you can be sure they will. Hallmark has found great success in recent years with its “Kitten Bowl” programming on Super Bowl Sunday. And when the (human) Summer Olympics kicked off in Rio de Janeiro last August, so did the “Kitten Summer Games” on Hallmark Channel.

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