At some point in the past few years despite the prospects, cancellations of several shows and its move away from scripted content made it apparent that YouTube wouldn’t be able to stand on its legs with its line-up of high-end programs. The company did maintain that they were going to keep making original content, and time will tell just what that means going forward, but at least one prospective series still has a chance: Cobra Kai.
The now two-season series, a spritely spin-off of the classic Karate Kid franchise that swaps the perspective storytelling angle returning actors William Zabka, Ralph Macchio and Martin Kove in their respective roles of Johnny Lawrence, Daniel LaRusso and John Kreese, is heading to the streamer later this year. They are joined by a recurring cast led by Xolo Maridueña, Mary Mouser, Tanner Buchanan, Jacob Bertrand, Nichole Brown, Peyton List, Gianni Decenzo and Courtney Henggler.
The story follows the events after the 1984 All-Valley Karate Torunament, the decisive evening for Johnny (Zabka), who appears in the first season of Cobra Kai as an alcoholic, washed-out day-laborer. Stuck in a time capsule and clearly left behind on all aspects of modern day life, reality catches up to him when he notices Daniel (Macchio) upscaling in his car dealership business.
Discouraged by all that he’s lost amidst the lingering grudge that lies underneath between the two, Johnny rises to the occasion in a small glimmer of hope that sees him rebirth the karate school. It’s a pivotal rubicon that ultimately commences a new saga for Johnny who now finds himself charged with not only teaching today’s generation of teenagers how to defend themselves, but transforming himself into the teacher and person he needs to be.
It’s an arc that gets explored even further in the second season as the series treads through the intense discord between him and Daniel, who himself reignites a following with the relaunch of Miyagi-Do Karate as he comes to grips with life in the wake of his late best friend, Sensei Miyagi (the late Pat Morita). Throughout the course of the unraveling drama, an explosive clash ensues between their students that results in a major cliffhanger moment for those involved, including Johnny’s young teenage neighbor and first student, Miguel (Maridueña).
Loaded with exciting teen drama and entertaining action sequences directed by Hiro Koda, the series became an immersive hit for Youtube Premium subscribers. Whatever the case may be now, at least fans of the franchise who couldn’t exactly catch up the streamer wars of the past few years may now have a chance to do so sometime before the year is out, and all with a third season in tow, at that.
The series is written and exec produced by Counterbalance Entertainment’s own Josh Heald (Hot Tub Time Machine), and Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg (Harold & Kumar film series) who say “Making Cobra Kai has been a dream come true for us since day one. We are thankful for the tireless dedication of Jeff Frost, Chris Parnell, Jason Clodfelter, Karen Tatevosian, and all our partners at Sony for finding us a new home where we can not only continue the series, but also explore opportunities to further expand The Karate Kid universe. We are beyond excited to join our new partners at Netflix and look forward to the show reaching the massive global audience who loves this franchise as much as we do.”
Brian Wright, Vice President, Original Series, Netflix states, “The appeal of The Karate Kid saga is timeless, and Cobra Kai picks up right where it left off without missing a beat. The rivalry between Daniel and Johnny is one for the ages, and the show has a ton of heart and is a lot of fun. We can’t wait to introduce a new generation of fans to Cobra Kai and are thrilled to be its new home around the world.”
Jeff Frost, President of Sony Pictures Television adds, “We are so proud of Cobra Kai and are overwhelmed by the massive fan response to the series. Josh, Jon, Hayden, Ralph, William and the entire cast have done such a brilliant job with this sensational series and the huge audience reaction and sentiment for it is a testament to that. We are very thankful to our partners at Netflix and couldn’t be more elated that they have become the new home for this epic saga.”
The acclaimed and much-talked-about Cobra Kai was named 2018’s Best Drama by Rotten Tomatoes, earning a rare 100% Fresh rating for its first season, and has received two Emmy nominations.
Cobra Kai is also executive produced James Lassiter and Caleeb Pinkett for Overbrook Entertainment, along with Susan Ekins, in association with Sony Pictures Television, and with Macchio and Zabka serving as co-executive producers.