EXCLUSIVE: Cobra Kai creators, executive producers and showrunners Jon Hurwitz, Hayden Schlossberg and Josh Heald have signed a big new four-year overall deal with the studio behind the hit Karate Kid sequel series, Sony Pictures Television.
When the trio signed their first overall deal with Sony Pictures TV in early 2019 and launched their Counterbalance Entertainment production company, Cobra Kai had just been renewed for a third season by YouTube. Since then, Sony TV successfully moved the series to Netflix where it has become a global hit, topping viewership charts and earning Season 4 and Season 5 renewals, along with landing four 2021 Emmy nominations for Season 3, including Outstanding Comedy Series.
Now, ahead of the Primetime Emmy Awards this month and Cobra Kai’s Season 4 premiere in December, Sony Pictures TV has stepped up with an early renewal of Counterbalance’s three-year overall deal for four more years.
Under the new pact, Hurwitz, Schlossberg and Heald, along with Counterbalance Head of Development Dina Hillier, will continue to develop comedy, drama and unscripted TV projects for the studio. That includes exploring expanding the Cobra Kai and Karate Kid universe with spinoffs and other offshoots, something Hurwitz, Schlossberg and Heald have spoken about, pointing to the way another Sony TV series, Breaking Bad, has successfully branched out with prequel series Better Call Saul and sequel movie El Camino.
Additionally, Counterbalance is In early development on half-hour coming-of-age comedy The Prince, written/executive produced by Zora Bikangaga (Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist, The First Lady). Inspired by Bikangaga’s real life, The Prince is described as Shakespeare’s Twelfth Night meets Coming To America set on a college campus in the early-2000s. The half-hour comedy centers on Temba Mutoro, a gregarious international student from Uganda who we eventually discover is a Black American freshman faking an accent inspired by his immigrant father and Eddie Murphy’s Prince Akeem. Sam Laybourne is executive producer and showrunner; Mo Marable is set to executive produce and direct.
“Jon, Hayden and Josh are among the most imaginative and ingenious writers and producers in the business,” said Jeff Frost, President of Sony Pictures Television Studios. “When they first pitched us their idea for Cobra Kai, we knew they were on to something incredibly special and that this team would be an amazing addition to the Sony family. We are so thrilled with their development slate and are elated that we will be continuing our partnership with them in the Sony dojo for many years to come.”
Previously announced Counterbalance projects in development include limited series on the NCAA, Unsportsmanlike Conduct, and animated series Prince Wawa, which has been set up at Fox.
“Arriving at Sony four years ago with only a knapsack full of karate dreams, we are overwhelmed and invigorated by the ongoing creative partnership we’ve experienced,” said Hurwitz, Schlossberg and Heald. “Jeff Frost, Jason Clodfelter, and their entire team have shown us great trust in re-envisioning a beloved IP, as well as providing the freedom to develop unique projects with fresh perspectives. In Phase Two of Counterbalance Entertainment’s evolution, we look forward to expanding into new genres, deepening our franchise development, and churning out the most badass content on television.”
This summer Counterbalance Entertainment released the praised road-trip comedy Plan B for Hulu. The company will also produce a feature film adaption of History Channel’s series Ancient Aliens with Legendary, with Heald set to direct.
Before teaming up for Cobra Kai, Hurwitz & Schlossberg as well as Heald created successful feature comedy franchises. Hurwitz and Schlossberg are behind the Harold & Kumar buddy comedy franchise for New Line and Heald originated Hot Tub Time Machine for MGM. Additional credits include the popular American Pie followup, American Reunion, written and directed by Hurwitz and Schlossberg, who also produced the 2018 comedy Blockers for Universal.
Prior to joining Counterbalance Entertainment, Hillier served as VP and Co-Head Live-Action Series at Disney Channel, as well as VP of Comedy at Paramount Television. She began her career at Sony Pictures Television where she developed and oversaw cult comedies Community and Happy Endings.
Bikangaga is currently co-producer on Showtime’s I Love This For You. He is repped by APA and Principal Entertainment. Heald, Hurwitz and Schlossberg are repped for TV by CAA. Heald’s attorney is Howard Abramson of Behr Abramson Levy. Hurwitz and Schlossberg’s attorney is Adam Kaller of Hansen Jacobson Teller.