YouTube is making a sequel series to The Karate Kid, bringing back the original actors of the iconic 1984 martial arts film to renew their rivalry.
Actors Ralph Macchio (Daniel LaRusso) and William Zabka (Johnny Lawrence) will star in Cobra Kai, a 10-episode comedy spinoff of The Karate Kid, debuting on the streaming service’s subscription product, YouTube Red, the company announced Aug. 4 at the Television Critics Association summer press tour. The series takes place 30 years after the events of the original The Karate Kid, when Macchio’s Daniel defeated Zabka’s Johnny in a karate tournament.
In Cobra Kai, a “down-and-out” Johnny reopens the infamous Cobrai Kai dojo, while Daniel is struggling without the guidance of his mentor, Mr. Miyagi (played in the original franchise by Pat Morita, who died in 2005).
Aside from being reboot of yet another beloved film franchise, the YouTube Red series is notable for another reason: The Karate Kid was released long before most of YouTube’s younger demographic was born. The company said it’s looking to add new audiences as it increasingly ramps up original programming.
“I don’t know anyone who doesn’t know Karate Kid,” said Susanne Daniels, YouTube’s global head of original content. Speaking to a room full of TV critics and reporters at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles, she said the company is targeting the 18-49 age demographic, and expects that the series will appeal to younger and older audiences as well.
YouTube’s biggest demographic is 25- to 34-year-olds, though the streaming-video giant hasn’t released data specific to YouTube Red, which launched in February 2016 and allows subscribers to watch ad-free videos and access YouTube’s growing slate of original shows for $10 per month. Most estimates pegged the service at 1.5 million subscribers as of late last year.
As for The Karate Kid franchise, Cobra Kai is just the latest installment in a franchise that simply refuses to die. The original film yielded three direct sequels, a short-lived animated series, and a 2010 remake (starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith). But Cobra Kai will be the first to feature the original actors, in their original roles, almost 30 years on. The show will premiere in 2018.