Not all reboots/remakes are made equal, for sure, but 2010’s The Karate Kid was a contemporary re-imagining of a cherished 1980s property that resonated with a number of moviegoers, earning a respectable critical reception and over $359 million worldwide in theaters. Columbia Pictures began development on a followup shortly after the Karate Kid redux was released; fast forward four years to the present, and the project has yet to make a whole lot of progress forward – especially now that it’s previously set director has stepped away and the script is being rewritten (… again).
Karate Kid 2 is expected to reunite its predecessor’s costars Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan, on a new adventure. At this stage, the sequel (assuming it does, in fact, make it to the big screen) will have to Smith’s age into account, seeing how he turns 16 in a couple weeks and has undergone the customary teen growth spurt over the years since the first installment was released. (He also costarred opposite his dad in M. Night Shyamalan’s After Earth but hey, we all do things as teenagers that we eventually wind up regretting).
Smith’s obvious age change may be at least partly to blame for the Karate Kid sequel’s screenplay continuously getting rewritten, as more time passes. The project started with a script by Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris (Kung Fu Panda), then got a new draft from Zak Penn (The Incredible Hulk). THR is now reporting that Jeremiah Friedman and Nick Palmer have been brought aboard to work on the screenplay.
At this point, it’s feasible that Friedman and Palmer – a relative newcomer writing duo with a handful of scripts in the early stage of pre-production – are working to “age up” the story for Karate Kid 2. The end result of their efforts could end up being a Karate Kid sequel that unfolds closer to a young adult drama, as opposed to the adolescent coming of age narrative featured in the first installment. (Think the difference between the issues dealt with in the first and second How to Train Your Dragon movies.)
Breck Eisner (Sahara, The Crazies) was first reported to be attached to direct Karate Kid 2 just a couple months ago, but the latest update from THR reveals that Eisner has already dropped the project, due to a scheduling conflict. In truth, the previous installment featured what often amounted to perfunctory direction by Harald Zwart (The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones), albeit with the scenic backdrop of China to compensate; which is to say, the sequel doesn’t really have that high a bar to clear in the directorial arena, but one hopes a talented candidate is recruited all the same.
For that matter, an intriguing choice of helmsman might be essential at this stage; not just in terms of getting the project’s wheels to stop spinning in place, but also to provide reason for everyone to be interested in seeing another Jaden Smith Karate Kid movie at all. The young Smith could very well end up making a name for himself one day (remember folks, he’s only 15), but a number of people likely still need convincing that a Karate Kid sequel is going to help him accomplish that goal.
We’ll keep you updated on development for The Karate Kid 2.