The amazing sequel show to The Karate Kid is crane kicking its way to a whole new audience. Monday, Netflix announced Cobra Kai is leaving YouTube and moving to Netflix. The first two seasons of the show will debut first, followed by the highly anticipated third season sometime after.
Cobra Kai is the nostalgic, poignant, exciting tale of adult Daniel LaRusso (Ralph Macchio) and Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka) that picks up after the events of all four Karate Kid movies. The first season was a hit for YouTube and the second season was one of the last original pieces of programming the gargantuan video site held onto. Soon after, YouTube told the producers while it would make a third season, it wouldn’t make a fourth. And so the scramble began to find a new home.
Many streamers were considered but show creators Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg, and Josh Heald told io9 that Netflix wanted the show from the start.
“Netflix was extremely interested when we first went out with it,” Hurwitz said over the phone. “They didn’t pass on it. They made offers and were very aggressive at the time. The only reason it didn’t go to Netflix back then was simply because of YouTube’s aggressiveness and guaranteeing a full season of the show before we had ever put a word on the page.”
The trio has nothing but good things to say about YouTube and, at one point, were considering putting season three there. But it became obvious if the show was moving to a new home, there needed to be a hook for viewers new and old.
“I think initially YouTube thought, ‘OK, we’ll release season three and then maybe you guys will find a new place,’” Schlossberg said. “But it was really important for us that season three be at whatever the new platform would be because we feel so great about season three. We just finished shooting it and we want it to have the biggest possible audience. So within the past bunch of months, it wasn’t a question of ‘Oh, my God, is it going to land somewhere?’ We felt pretty confident it would land somewhere. We just wanted it to be at the best place, which is Netflix.”
Predictably, with no release date set, the trio declined to discuss any details of season three, such as if anyone new from The Karate Kid universe might be joining the show. But the one piece of information they have revealed is that part of the season will take place in Okinawa, Japan, home of Mr. Miyagi and the primary setting for The Karate Kid Part II.
“In this series, we get to re-explore these movies within the light of modern storytelling and where we are in our own lives now,” Schlossberg said. “So we love the idea of going back to Okinawa as...it continues the general theme of being able to look at the past in a completely different light as adults. One of the fun things about the show is we’re so ingrained with these memories. I mean, not everybody has seen The Karate Kid but a lot of people have seen it. And for us and a whole generation of people, these are images and moments and movies that are ingrained in our lives and in our past. And so we can write stories where characters are reflecting on their own lives and you as the audience are really connected because you remember those experiences. And I think people have had those moments in the first two seasons of Cobra Kai and Okinawa really allows for even more of that. So we’re excited for people to see that. It’s continuing what we love about this show.”
“Season three is definitely our biggest season,” Hurwitz added. “It’s a season of rebirth and regrouping for a lot of characters. And it’s a season where we look to the past to see our pathway to the future.”
For now, the past for Cobra Kai is YouTube and the future is Netflix. The creators didn’t have any updates on when, specifically, the new season will debut nor what’s going on with a potential fourth season or beyond. But one has to think that’s on the horizon—there are always more Karate Kid stories to be told.
“We have a pretty solid, well-oiled machine with the cast and crew that we have,” Hurwitz said. “And we will continue to make the show that we’ve been making. If there’s a little bit more money [from Netflix]? Great. We’ll put it on the screen and that would be awesome. But we’re not really concerned with that. I think the greatest element of Netflix for us simply is the ability for fans all over the world to have easy access to the show.”
That they will. Described as a kind of “relaunch,” the first two seasons of Cobra Kai will appear on Netflix sometime in the future so that new viewers can catch up. That’ll then be followed by season three. All dates are to be announced, but at least now Cobra Kai fans can rest easy. The dojo is about to reopen.
Correction: 6/23/2020, 2:30 p.m. ET: A previous version of this post misstated which company made the announcement and Mr. Zabka’s preferred first name. Those errors have been corrected.
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