Cocaine Bear has officially started filming. Based on the real-life story of an American black bear overdosing on a drug smuggler’s discarded cocaine in 1985, the movie is written by Jimmy Warden and directed by Elizabeth Banks. The project is in development at Universal Pictures, though the studio hasn’t yet set an official release date for the upcoming thriller.
On Twitter, producer Christopher Miller posted an image of the clapboard from the set from the “first day of shooting on Cocaine Bear,” revealing that filming has now started. The movie’s totally rad logo is also unveiled in the photo, and it seems to be a sign of just how 1980s Cocaine Bear will feel. You can take a look at the image in the tweet below.
Cocaine Bear features an ensemble cast led by Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., and Ray Liotta. Also starring are Alden Ehrenreich, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Margo Martindale, Kristofer Hivju, Brooklyn Prince, Christian Convery, Kahyun Kim, and Scott Seiss. Along with directing, Elizabeth Banks also produces with Max Handelman for Brownstone Productions, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, and Aditya Sood for Lord Miller Productions, and Brian Duffield.
An official logline hasn’t been released as of this time, but the movie is labeled as a thriller, leading to speculation that a cocaine-fueled bear could serve as an antagonist. Cocaine Bear is based on an incident in 1985 when drug smuggler Andrew C. Thornton II discarded 70 pounds of the titular powdery substance to lighten his airplane’s load, letting it drop into the forest below where it was discovered by an 175-pound American black bear. The bear was later found dead near the coke, nearly all of which had been consumed by the animal, causing it to overdose.
It’s not exactly clear how Banks plans to bring this story to life in the movie, but the title alone nevertheless has many intrigued. In reality, the bear itself has become a bit of a legend, as it was taxidermied after its death and has since been propped on display for people to see. Currently, the infamous “cocaine bear” can be found as a tourist attraction at the Kentucky Fun Mall in Lexington, Kentucky. Certainly, the upcoming movie’s release will only make the legend that much more famous.
While Banks might be best known for her work as an actress, she has since been focusing her efforts behind the camera as a producer, writer, and director. She made her directorial debut with 2015’s Pitch Perfect 2, which set a record for the highest opening-weekend gross for a first-time director. Banks would follow this up by writing, directing, and producing 2019’s Charlie’s Angels reboot in which she also starred alongside Kristen Stewart, Naomi Scott, and Ella Balinska. Cocaine Bear will be her third effort on a directorial feature.
Shooting has just started on Cocaine Bear, but Universal Pictures has yet to announce an official premiere date. The movie is expected to drop sometime in 2022. For more from Banks, the filmmaker and actress can also be seen in the starring role of the upcoming drama Call Jane with Sigourney Weaver and Kate Mara. This news comes to us from Christopher Miller.