When your movie is titled Cocaine Bear, you don’t need much else, right? Your audience is either all in on Cocaine Bear, or they never were going to have Cocaine Bear on their radar, so why bother? Director Elizabeth Banks saw the appeal of the true story, which details a 175-pound bear who, upon discovering a duffle bag packed with coke, decided he’d become the ultimate party animal. We are beyond intrigued. So when given the chance to speak with Cocaine Bear producers Phil Lord and Chris Miller, CinemaBlend asked them to describe Banks’ film in one word, and Miller told us:
Chris Miller apparently understands that even HE doesn’t have to sell Cocaine Bear too hard. This future Oscar contender about a bear that overdoses on cocaine is already on track to unseat Avatar as the top global box office leader, so why not keep those cards close to the vest. Dangle the word “insane” to the salivating Bear nuts, but do your best to keep them guessing.
Phil Lord and Chris Miller were in Savannah, Georgia this week to attend the SCAD Savannah Film Festival, where they accompanied director Mike Rianda to present his winning family comedy The Mitchells vs. The Machines, an animated romp that speaks to the types of stories Lord and Miller like to support. These are the guys who turned harmless Lego bricks into a wondrous franchise that reinvented Batman (Will Arnett) and educated the world on Master Builders. They turned the hopelessly corny TV series 21 Jump Street into a two-film comedy hit. They see stories through a different lens, and that makes Cocaine Bear the ideal project for them to throw their weight behind.
OK, so, what is this movie really about? Here are the facts we know. In 1985, former narcotics officer Andrew C. Thornton tossed a duffle bag filled with smuggled cocaine from a plane because his tiny craft was carrying too much weight. By this point in his career, Thornton had switched over to the Dark Side of the drug trade, and was smuggling his own stuff. This duffle bag landed in the woods of northern Georgia, where our hero - the titular bear - found it and sniffed it all up.
Elizabeth Banks has directed Pitch Perfect 2 and the recent Charlie’s Angels reboot, sharpening her skills before tackling Cocaine Bear. She is bringing along a talented cast for this “insane” effort, including Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson, Ray Liotta, Jesse Tyler Ferguson and Margot Martindale. Principal photography just wrapped on October 17, so we’re expecting to see the film in 2022. Not sure when. Likely during awards season. (OK, I’m kidding. I just want to live in a world where Harrison Ford needs to stand on stage at the Academy Awards and announce the title Cocaine Bear. Because Cocaine Bear!)
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Sean O’Connell is a journalist and CinemaBlend’s Managing Editor. Having been with the site since 2011, Sean interviewed myriad directors, actors and producers, and created ReelBlend, which he proudly cohosts with Jake Hamilton and Kevin McCarthy. And he's the author of RELEASE THE SNYDER CUT, the Spider-Man history book WITH GREAT POWER, and an upcoming book about Bruce Willis.