“Cocaine Bear”: A huge black bear goes on a murderous rampage after ingesting cocaine

"Cocaine Bear": A huge black bear goes on a murderous rampage after ingesting cocaine
Keri Russell in Cocaine Bear (2023)

This is one of those cases where we’ve seen the meme before even knowing about the news. Yes, I am talking about Pablo Eskobear, the black bear that overdosed on cocaine in 1985 after drug smugglers dropped their shipment in the wilderness in Tennessee, United States. They were smuggling on an airplane when en route they dropped a load of 40 plastic containers of cocaine into the wilderness because the weight was too heavy in-flight before abandoning the plane. One of the smugglers was killed in the evacuation when his parachute failed to open. A few days later, the Georgia Bureau of Investigation reported finding a dead black bear that had eaten the cocaine from the containers. The total amount of cocaine eaten was 75 pounds (34 kilograms), valued at 2 million dollars.

Auropsying the bear, the chief medical examiner stated that its stomach was “literally packed to the brim with cocaine“, though he estimated the bear had absorbed only 3 to 4 grams into its bloodstream at the time of its death. If that wasn’t surreal enough, the doctor did not want to waste the body of the bear, so he had it taxidermied and gave it to the Chattahoochee River National Recreation Area. However, the bear was lost until it emerged again in a pawn shop. Country singer Waylon Jennings bought it, and, eventually, it made its way to the “Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall” in Lexington, Kentucky where it remains to this day.

And, yes, this might sound like a crazy plot for a Coen Brothers movie but it actually happened in real life.

On March 9, 2021, Universal Pictures announced that a horror thriller film, Cocaine Bear (2023), was in development. In the movie, that altered the reality for entertainment purposes, after ingesting a duffel bag full of cocaine, a 500 lb American black bear goes on a killing rampage in a small town of Georgia where an oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists, teens, and locals must join forces to survive the attack.

The movie is directed and co-produced by Elizabeth Banks, who after having a successful career as an actress with titles including The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008), Man on a Ledge (2012), Power Rangers (2017), Brightburn (2019), the Sam Raimi Spider-Man trilogy, and the Hunger Games, and Pitch Perfect film trilogies, decided to step behind the camera and debuted as the director of the segment Middleschool Date in Movie 43 (2013) followed by the features Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) and the Charlie’s Angels (2019) remake that, although it bombed by the critics and audience, it was not so bad compared with many blockbuster junk we get on our screens nowadays.

Jimmy Warden, the writer of Netflix comedy-horror The Babysitter: Killer Queen (2020) and the writer and director of the upcoming thriller Borderline, both titles starring Samara Weaving, has been the author of the screenplay.

The main cast in Cocaine Bear (2023) is formed by Ray Liotta in one of his latest roles before his passing in 2022, Keri Russell, nominated in 3 consecutive years for the Primetime Emmy award for her role in The Americans (2013–2018), and O’Shea Jackson Jr., the son of rapper Ice Cube who, let’s face it, looks exactly as his father so freakily that he portrayed him in the biopic Straight Outta Compton (2015) for which he achieved several awards nominations and wins. Alden Ehrenreich, Christian Convery, Brooklynn Prince, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Aaron Holliday, Margo Martindale, Matthew Rhys, and Kristofer Hivju also star.

Cocaine Bear (2023) is Rated R for bloody violence and gore, drug content, and language throughout. The movie is scheduled for a theatrical release on February 24, 2023. Watch the official trailer here.