‘Crossover cinema’ is the term used to explain the emerging form of cinema that crosses cultural borders at the stage of conceptualisation and production and, as such, is formed with a hybrid cinematic grammar at the textual level, and also crosses over in terms of its distribution and reception (Khorana 2013 p. 2). Now, in English: cinema that crosses cultural borders at any stage of its conception, production or reception.
Globalisation has completely transformed the nature of global flows and the ways of associating with home and host cultures. In turn, it is important that the “new breed of transnational creative practitioners and their cinematic practices” (Khorana 2013, p. 3) are examined as crossover rather than being stuck to their simple classification based off ethnic origins or identities. This ability for cinema to crossover, as a result of globalisation, implies not just another passing cinematic fad, but rather a major structural shift in global media industries. But, for this crossover cinema to be successful, the site of conceptualisation and production is the most important factor; this is what then leads to textual hybridity and wide-ranging audience appeal. A crossover film does not just assume a Western audience from the outset, but rather, after multiple cultural affiliations, the film eventually appeals to a range of viewers among whom the Western audience is just one possibility.
So, from that definition, what demonstrates a crossover film?
If you haven’t heard of this example, then I’m sure you’ve been living under a rock. Danny Boyle’s 2008 film Slumdog Millionaire, has been successful in achieving the title of a crossover film in terms of production, content and appeal, literally crossing over into the main group of Academy Awards instead of being part of the foreign group. The fact that the film barely seems foreign at all is clear evidence of the film’s success in bridging between cultures. Khorana (2013, p. 6) cites Kavoori (2009), stating that Kavoori refers to the film as “a classic crossover text,” as it uses “the specifics of Indian locale to speak to wider (global) concerns of personal responsibility in a heartless world.” The movie provides a successful template for the type of content and talent that has the capacity to become a cross-cultural film.
But, of course, there is a downside: A film is considered a cultural hybrid when it references another culture, or attempts to adapt another country’s original film (Khorana 2013). Because of this fact, successful crossover films are relatively rare. The existence of assumptions and interpretations of other cultures, as well as countries concluding that they are knowledgeable of other culture’s characteristics, can mean that differing cultures may not perceive crossover films well, whether the crossover film originates in their own or a host country.
Khorana, S 2013, ‘Crossover Cinema: A Conceptual and Genealogical Overview’, Producing a Hybrid Grammar, pp. 1-18.