Columbia Pictures began developing a sequel to The Karate Kid mere days after the 2010 remake opened to an unexpected $55.6 million during its debut weekend. The studio hired on screenwriting duo Ethan Reiff and Cyrus Voris (who penned the screen stories for Kung Fu Panda and Ridley Scott's Robin Hood) just a few months later, but we've heard little else about the project over the 17 months that've passed since then.
That doesn't mean the sequel is in any kind of trouble, of course. Case in point: another writer has been brought onboard, with (most likely) the intent of getting The Karate Kid 2 (not the official title) ready to begin shooting before 2012 draws to a close.
Variety says that Zak Penn has been tapped to pen the Karate Kid sequel script; the site's report does not clarify if he will be reworking Reiff and Voris' earlier draft, or simply starting from scratch. However, there is little doubt that Jaden Smith and Jackie Chan will be brought back to portray culturally-diverse student-teacher duo Dre Parker and Mr. Han once again.
Penn brings experience writing action-heavy comic book titles, ranging from good (The Incredible Hulk) to mediocre (X-Men: The Last Stand) and pretty undeniably bad (Elektra). However, the Alphas co-creator was only one of several contributors to that X-Men threequel and Daredevil spinoff flick, whereas he was the sole writer on the Hulk sequel/reboot. Not to mention, Penn also... er, penned the screen story for X2: X-Men United.
That's all to say: Penn's being involved with Karate Kid 2 reads as being a good thing. Seeing how he will most likely be (to some degree) revamping Reiff and Voris' preliminary screenplay draft, this particular sequel to a remake that turned out much better than many expected is off to a pretty solid start, all things considered.
The followup to the original 1984 Karate Kid movie delved further into the backstory of Mr. Miyagi (renamed Mr. Han, in the remake) and saw the titular character accompany his mentor to the latter's homeland, learning more about the very origins of martial arts in the process. However, similar narrative ground has already been covered in the Karate Kid remake, so the sequel to that flick will presumably travel a different plot route.
Harald Zwart provided sturdy direction in The Karate Kid, so it stands to reason that he should - and will - also be sought to return for sequel. Solid acting (especially on Chan's part) and storytelling were much more central to that remake's success, though, so the idea of a different helmer being brought onboard for Karate Kid 2 wouldn't, per se, bode poorly for the potential quality of the film.
Smith will also be a more seasoned and matured an actor by the time Karate Kid 2 begins production, seeing how he'll be doing the bulk of heavy-lifting on M. Night Shyamalan's currently-filming After Earth. So, again, regardless of who ends up directing or what the story is, the Karate Kid sequel actually has a lot working in its favor right now.
We will continue to keep you updated on the status of The Karate Kid 2 as the story develops.