Banzai! YouTube Red has ordered the Cobra Kai TV show to series. Starring Ralph Macchio and William Zabka, Cobra Kai is a sequel to the 1984 feature film, The Karate Kid and its sequels. The 10-episode first season follows Daniel LaRusso (Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (Zabka).
Premiering in 2018, Cobra Kai is set 30 years after The Karate Kid. The YouTube Red series centers on Johnny as he reopens the Cobra Kai dojo and his rivalry with Daniel. THR says he “has been struggling to maintain balance in his life without the guidance of his mentor, Mr. Miyagi (the late Pat Morita).” Josh Heald is writing with Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg, who will also direct.
Here’s more from The Hollywood Reporter:
“Like everyone who grew up in the 1980s, the three of us are enormous fans of The Karate Kid,” Heald, Hurwitz and Schlossberg said in a joint statement. “Cobra Kai will be a true continuation of the original films — packed with comedy, heart and thrilling fight scenes. We can’t wait to reignite the LaRusso-Lawrence rivalry, and we’re thankful to our partners at YouTube Red, Sony Pictures Television and Overbrook for their shared enthusiasm in making our dream project a reality.”
The series landed at YouTube Red following a competitive bidding process that sources say also included offers from Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and AMC after Macchio and Zabka pitched the series all over town. Macchio appeared in all three original Karate Kid features, while Zabka had roles in the first two. “They were enthusiastic and fun,” YouTube global head of originals Susanne Daniels tells THR of the pitch meeting. “I don’t know whether they had rehearsed it, but they played the parts of their characters well. More than anything, it was just amazing to see them together again.”
Daniels, who said Karate Kid still resonates with YouTube users today, noted that the series comes as part of an effort to age up YouTube Red’s demographic from 18-34 to the more advertiser-coveted 18-49 set. “It had all the elements you look for in a strong show. It had heart, it had laughs, it had drama, it had characters with strong points of view. All of it was there in the pitch,” Daniels said.
Asked specifically why they were ditching the familiar Karate Kid title in favor of Cobra Kai, Daniels said it was driven by the story. “If The Karate Kid was Daniel’s story, Cobra Kai is equal parts Daniel and Johnny’s story. Also because this is a series and not a movie, we really wanted to reimagine how the story was told. Changing the name made sense as part of that.”
Sony’s Columbia Pictures distributed the original 1984 feature that went on to become a pop culture staple and spawn two sequels as well as a 1994 revamp with Hilary Swank and a 2010 reboot starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. The latter revival, produced by Smith, Overbrook and Columbia Pictures, grossed $359 million worldwide on a budget of $40 million. All told, the franchise has grossed more than $619 million worldwide.
“Continuing the story of The Karate Kid has been a passion project for all of us, and when Ralph and Billy said yes, we knew it had become real,” said Glenn Adilman, exec vp comedy development at SPTS. “We are thrilled that YouTube Red felt the same thing the minute they heard the pitch and then stepped up with this series commitment.”
What do you think? Are you a Karate Kid fan? Do you plan to check out the Cobra Kai TV series on YouTube Red?