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YouTube Red's Cobra Kai is a blast from the past thrill-ride that's as enjoyable for classic fans as it is newcomers to the Karate Kid franchise. The series' quality may be a surprise to a mainstream audience, but not to co-creator Josh Heald, who said he and co-creators Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg have been dreaming of this adaptation for years. The three men sat on the idea of a film for a long time, until one fateful day when a Fuller House advertisement inspired them, and that should cause fans to thank the series for Daniel and Johnny's comeback. Here's what Heald had to say about it:
And then one day, years later, we would find ourselves driving down Sunset Boulevard, staring at a billboard with...wait, is that...Kimmy Gibbler? With all respect to Andrea Barber, it was an a-ha moment for the three of us. If we now lived in a world where Kimmy Gibbler could be on a billboard, then so could Johnny Lawrence. And if Johnny Lawrence could be on a billboard, well...that meant Cobra Kai was a viable TV series. That's just solid math. Adapting our movie idea into a serialized television show presented limitless potential. In front of us was an indeterminate length of runway --- much longer than 90 minutes --- from which we could relaunch these characters and introduce plenty more.
The Cobra Kai creators found confidence in their pitch with the Fuller House billboard, as Andrea Barber's giant mug convinced them anything is possible in this modern era of television revivals. After all, not many even at the height of Full House's popularity would imagine that one day the show's annoying next door neighbor would be one of the central characters in Fuller House. This resonated with the Cobra Kai guys, who soon realized a television continuation of The Karate Kid with Johnny Lawrence, and not Daniel LaRusso, as the central character was not only viable, it was marketable.
The three men ultimately ended up agreeing to Cobra Kai's release on YouTube Red but noted there were plenty of other major players wanting in on the show. Josh Heald wrote in a piece for THR that the meetings with executives were exciting, and watching the responses from those who spotted actors William Zabka and Ralph Macchio in attendance was an experience other people should have in their lives:
Finding a home for our show was a week like no other. If you ever have the opportunity to go to a bunch of meetings with Daniel LaRusso and Johnny Lawrence along for the ride, I highly encourage it. It just makes people giddy to see those guys together. Other creatives on their own pitch trails were downright flummoxed. At Netflix, Aaron Paul did a triple take. At Amazon, Jordan Peele approached and politely demanded to know, "OK...what is this?" Network executives were enthusiastic and competitive in their response.
Josh Heald explained that Cobra Kai ultimately went to YouTube Red after YouTube's Content Chief, Susanne Daniels, offered the men a full series order and a healthy budget. Hilariously enough, Heald's story essentially says that the series wouldn't have been possible had it not been for Netflix's advertising of Fuller House, yet the men ultimately passed on whatever developed from their meeting with the service. Perhaps YouTube should send Netflix a fruit basket to thank them for their effort?