Jurassic Park Has An Awe-Inspiring Scene That Stuck With Elizabeth Banks. Years Later, She Channeled It In Cocaine Bear

Cocaine Bear and a Velociraptor from Jurassic Park, pictured side by side.
(Image credit: Universal)

Warning: slight SPOILER warning for Cocaine Bear is in effect. If you haven’t seen the movie yet, you’ve been warned. 

The blockbusters from director Steven Spielberg have gone on to inspire plenty of filmmakers who grew up enjoying such sights. So it’s no surprise that when it came to director Elizabeth Banks’ vision for her 2023 new movie release Cocaine Bear, such an influence would come into play. However, the twist to this tale is that it wasn’t the brutality of Jaws that Banks took her cues from; instead, it was an awe-inspiring scene from Jurassic Park the director considered her “True north.” 

Sam Neill looking up in fear in Jurassic Park.

(Image credit: Universal)

The Awe-Inspiring Jurassic Park Moment That May Have Inspired Elizabeth Banks

As the most recent guest on CinemaBlend's in-house podcast ReelBlend, Elizabeth Banks was asked about a recurring method that shows up throughout this coked-out adventure. As it turns out, Cocaine Bear has a couple of deaths that involved the severing of a victim’s legs, which on its own may conjure another Jurassic Park image. 

Blending bear-based reality with dino-fiction, Banks began to lay out the Steven Spielberg scene that inspired her, and the specific question it made her ask about her own film. Here’s what Elizabeth Banks told the ReelBlend hosts as she started spilling the beans on her Universal release: 

When you look at real attacks, weirdly it’s the legs that get ripped off. So part of it was that. And part of it was, the opening sequence when that leg comes in, that was always, I’d always imagined that. I asked for that. The original script … it opened on the kids in the woods, and I thought ‘We have to set the tone of this movie right away.’ And one of my touch points was Jurassic Park. People talk about Jaws, and they talk about animal attack movies, Cujo and things like that. Here’s the thing: bears are not inherently that scary. They’re adorable. We look at bears and we’re like, ‘Aww. It’s so cute.’ And I remember in Jurassic Park, when they saw those dinosaurs, they were awe inspired, right? It was like ‘Wow, we’re seeing such a cool thing in nature. Wow, wow, wow.’ And then the wow turns to terror, when you realize ‘Oh wait a minute, I’m too close. It can move faster than I realize.’ Your instinct kicks in after the ‘Aww, how cute!’ goes away, and you realize ‘Oh my God, this thing’s a threat. I’m its prey.’

While Elizabeth Banks doesn’t name the specific moment in Jurassic Park that carries that mixture of awe and fear, one obvious candidate comes to mind. In the 1993 classic, there’s a moment where Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum are shown around the labs of Jurassic Park, just as a baby raptor is hatching.

As if the previous mention of a T-Rex being on the island wasn’t enough of a shock, Neill’s Dr. Alan Grant truly starts to worry when it’s revealed that yes, they did breed velociraptors. Relive that moment in the clip shared below:

An iconic moment that helped set the table for what was to come, you can practically see a straight line leading from the Jurassic universe to Elizabeth Banks’ Cocaine Bear. Thanks to the almost-30-year-old blockbuster of legendary proportions, the question of how this dark comedy inspired by real life should play out was asked and answered in a manner that has made critics and audiences scream with laughter, as well as pure fear.

Keri Russell in Cocaine Bear

(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

How Elizabeth Banks Channeled Jurassic Park In Cocaine Bear

Admittedly, Cocaine Bear is a much more comedic film than Jurassic Park ever was. The adaptation of Michael Crichton’s sci-fi masterpiece did have some moments of levity and humor presented throughout, but the message of humanity tampering with the laws of nature was the main attraction.

For Elizabeth Banks’ picture, those tones were flip flopped in the order of importance, with dark comedy ruling the day and bone-chilling/emotional moments also being included. In the case of both creature features, the crossroads met at the same place: turning awe to terror. 

As she continued with her description of the Jurassic influences on her movie, Banks specified the exact intent she set out to achieve with Cocaine Bear’s overall action: 

It was like, ‘How do we turn the awe and wonder of seeing a real animal in nature … and turn that on its head into terror? And then how do we sort of upgrade that so that everybody understands we’re gonna go there with this movie?’ This movie is gonna be insane, the kills are gonna be big time, we’re gonna take you on a ride. I think that those sorts of moments are very visceral for people, and I want the pit in people’s stomachs to drop when they see certain things. That’s, for me, part of the ride I’m putting the audience on. It’s how I can start to invest the audience and control them, literally within their bodies. … I wanted everybody’s sphincter to tighten up while they were sitting in the chair.

The true story of the bear known as “Pablo Escobear” is not as exciting as the horrific events that befall Cocaine Bear’s cast. In reality, the story and the taxidermied bear that symbolizes it are more of an oddity than a horror show. So leave it to writer Jimmy Warden and director Elizabeth Banks to draw from one of Steven Spielberg’s most harrowing films to build a much deadlier fiction.

Once again, life has found a way to turn fact into fear, thanks to the madness that is Cocaine Bear. The movie should have audiences lining up for carnage, chaos and, of course cocaine, when it opens this weekend. If you want to see what other horrific delights await you throughout the near future, check out the upcoming horror movies guide. 

Mike Reyes
Senior Movies Contributor

Mike Reyes is the Senior Movie Contributor at CinemaBlend, though that title’s more of a guideline really. Passionate about entertainment since grade school, the movies have always held a special place in his life, which explains his current occupation. Mike graduated from Drew University with a Bachelor’s Degree in Political Science, but swore off of running for public office a long time ago. Mike's expertise ranges from James Bond to everything Alita, making for a brilliantly eclectic resume. He fights for the user.