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'Cobra Kai' Creators Explain Their Philosophy On Sequels

Cobra Kai is pretty much the ultimate Karate Kid Part V. In fact, if you take each season as a movie, they’re up to Karate Kid VIII coming soon. Creators Josh Heald, Jon Hurwitz and Hayden Schlossberg had prior experience with sequels. Heald created Hot Tub Time Machine which had a sequel. Hurwitz and Schlossberg created the Harold & Kumar trilogy and got to do American Reunion

Heald, Hurwitz and Schlossberg spoke to Showbiz Cheat Sheet by Zoom on June 14. Heald and Schlossberg shared their philosophy on making sequels. This explains why Cobra Kai has captured the Karate Kid fans. 

The ‘Cobra Kai’ creators like sequels with a twist 

Cobra Kai isn’t only Karate Kid V. There are plenty of differences, beginning with anchoring the show on Johnny Lawrence (William Zabka). Putting Johnny and Daniel (Ralph Macchio) in the roles of teachers to a new generation is another twist. 

“We like to say okay, if you like the cheeseburger, we have this new dish on the menu but it’s going to taste a little bit like the cheeseburger right at the beginning,” Heald said. “It might taste like the cheeseburger the whole way through. But, when you’re done, I’m going to tell you that it was an impossible burger. We like to have our cake and eat it too in that way, but I respect that there’s different types of storytelling. Some stories are meant to have less nostalgia or different kinds of nostalgia. It really varies property to property for me.”

‘New and improved’ is not good enough for the creators of ‘Cobra Kai’

Cobra Kai went to the trouble of getting the original actors back to continue the story of their characters. For people who just want to see a new cast do The Karate Kid, they made that movie in 2010.

“For me, when I see some piece of IP that I connected with in my childhood and the only difference is a new fresh face or new fresh talent or modern special effects, that is not enough to me,” Schlossberg said. “I understand why that movie gets made, because there’s a younger audience that wants to see something that worked in the past. For me, it’s just like okay, well, I’ve already seen that movie and the story itself that we care the most about.”

After four films, Schlossberg and his co-creators stil wanted more Karate Kid.

“Whether it’s IP that is continuing the story like we’re doing, that’s inherently more interesting to me,” Schlossberg said. “Just like oh my God, this is a continuation of something that I fell in love with. It’s not over. That’s a real sequel. If you’re doing something that’s completely different with a different cast, it does need something new in the story that sucks me in.”

Other approaches to sequels are okay too

Heald, Hurwitz and Schlossberg got to do Cobra Kai the way they wanted. When other creators approach sequels, they also accept different strokes. 

“You bring your fandom to everything you watch,” Heald said. “So whenever I’d watch something that’s an extension of a universe I like, I bring my own expectations to it. It’s hard to separate those from the vision of the filmmaker. I’ve been more surprised, at times, with franchises that take bigger swings and do things completely unexpectedly that earn my confusion. And then I don’t know if I like it and then I really like it, but I had to eat the whole cake to get there. And then there’s franchises that right from the get go, you are back in it and you love it. I think it’s just different ways of filmmakers approaching beloved IP. And it’s not an easy job.”

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