It's the ultimate comeback story. After two seasons of strong reviews but low viewership on YouTube Red, Cobra Kai made the leap to Netflix for Season 3 — with Season 4 already confirmed in late 2020. However, despite seemingly having all the time in the world to get started on the Karate Kid sequel series' next chapter, production on Cobra Kai Season 4 isn't quite as far along as you might think — at least not according to the Karate Kid himself, Ralph Macchio.
Speaking to Inverse ahead of the Season 3 premiere, Macchio offered an update on Cobra Kai Season 4 while revealing how exactly the series made its way to Netflix in the first place.
"We’re waiting. We have the green light. It’s just a question of when that’s happening." Macchio said, adding that, for now, "We’re getting in shape."
In a normal year with a normal show, production on the new season would have already begun as the cast returned to film a new season as the current one premiered. But Cobra Kai's situation is anything but normal.
Produced by Sony, Cobra Kai got its start on YouTube Red (back when Google was trying to compete with Netflix on original streaming shows). Even back then, the team had their sights set on Netflix, but Macchio is thankful that YouTube cam through and made the series a reality.
However, when YouTube changed its strategy, Cobra Kai was left in limbo.
"Season 3 was completed when the show was still at YouTube, and we were hopeful and had intentions that if we had a fourth season it would be at YouTube," Macchio said. "We got information that they weren’t continuing, they were changing their model. So Sony Television, which owns the Karate Kid franchise, asked them not to put the show out so we could potentially resell the show."
Sony was able to sell Cobra Kai to Netflix, including the ready-to-go Season 3. It's unclear why Netflix sat on those new episodes for so long (though the company did ultimately move the premiere up a week to January 1). Perhaps it was to avoid an extra-long gap between Seasons 3 and 4.
“In every language imaginable, people are cheering this series.”
"Netflix came in after Season 3 was completed and completely done, so we had that in our back pocket and then the pandemic happened," Macchio said. "We were asking companies to buy us when we didn’t know what the world was. We were homeless for a little while."
He adds: "So when Netflix came through, which is where we always wanted to be from the get-go, it’s above and beyond. In every language imaginable, people are cheering this series. So were are reaping those benefits."
Cobra Kai found a massive new platform with Netflix, quickly skyrocketing to the service's public top 10 list when Seasons 1 and 2 were re-released in 2020. Several days after its Season 3 premiere, the show is #1 in the U.S. on Netflix once again. There's little doubt that Season 4 will be a huge hit too, just don't expect it anytime soon. They haven't even started filming.
Cobra Kai is streaming now on Netflix.