Is Cocaine Bear Actually Based on a True Story?

Cocaine Bear is taking the internet by storm. Monday, Universal released the first teaser poster for the upcoming thriller, giving the masses their first earnest look at the picture. Across the top of the poster in big, bold letters reads “inspired by true events,” akin to something you may see from the Texas Chainsaw Massacre or The Conjuring franchises. While the “true events” banner is often inflated to allow for a feature film, Cocaine Bear is an event, that by all accounts, actually happened. While the Elizabeth Banks film is set to take some creative liberties as it transforms into a thriller following a drug-fueled bear as it. stalks the woods while hunting campers down, the narcotics-related premise is as real as can be.

It all stems from an event in 1985 involving Andrew C. Thornton II, a police officer-turned-drug smuggler. During one of his smuggling runs from Colombia, Thornton and a business partner jumped from their plane with dozens of duffel bags packed to the brim with the drug. Thornton didn’t survive the jump after getting tangled in his parachute, dropping some of the said duffel bags along the plane’s flight path. One of those bags ultimately gave an unsuspecting bear one Hell of a night.

Three months after Thornton’s ill-fated skydive, officials found a black bear dead along the flight path with one of the smuggler’s empty duffel bags nearby. It’s believed the black bear ingested the entire contents of the bag, which was thought to amount to roughly $15 million worth of cocaine.

Cocaine Bear stars Keri Russell (The Americans), Emmy winner Margo Martindale (The Americans), Emmy winner Ray Liotta (The Many Saints of Newark), Alden Ehrenreich (Solo: A Star Wars Story), O’Shea Jackson Jr. (Straight Outta Compton), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), Kristofer Hivju (Game of Thrones), Kahyun Kim (American Gods), Christian Convery (Sweet Tooth), Brooklynn Prince (The Florida Project), and newcomer Scott Seiss.

Directed by Elizabeth Banks (Charlie’s Angels, Pitch Perfect 2) from a screenplay by Jimmy Warden (The Babysitter: Killer Queen), Cocaine Bear is produced by Oscar winners Phil Lord and Chris Miller (Spider-Man: Into The Spider-Verse, The Mitchells vs. The Machines) and Aditya Sood (The Martian) for Lord Miller, by Elizabeth Banks and Max Handelman (Pitch Perfect franchise) for Brownstone Productions, and by Brian Duffield (Spontaneous). Robin Fisichella (Ma) will executive produce.

Cocaine Bear lands in theaters on February 24, 2023.


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