Elizabeth Banks to Direct Thriller Inspired By True Story of Cocaine-Taking Bear

Image credit: Richard Cartwright / Universal Pictures

Elizabeth Banks has lined up her third feature as director following Pitch Perfect 2 and 2019’s Charlie’s Angels.

Banks will be directing Cocaine Bear, a Universal Pictures project that’s being described as “a character drive-thriller inspired by true events that took place in Kentucky in 1985.” It’s one bizarre true story.

As reported by The New York Times back in ’85, the Georgia Bureau of Investigations found a deceased 175-pound black bear that had died of a cocaine overdose – the biggest cocaine overdose in history. The bear, you see, had consumed around 40 kilos of the drug.

As for how that even happened: Andrew Thornton, a former narcotics officer-turned drug kingpin and smuggler, threw packages from his aeroplane during a mid-flight from Colombia. He then parachuted out, only to get tangled in the parachute and fall to his death due to carrying too big a load (his body was found with a duffel bag holding 75 pounds/34 kg of cocaine). The bear was found three months later.

Nowadays, you can see the taxidermied animal, dubbed “Pablo EscoBear,” of course, at the Kentucky Fun Mall. Seriously.

Cocaine Bear‘s screenplay will be coming from Jimmy Warden, his second feature script being produced after Netflix horror-comedy sequel The Babysitter: Killer Queen.

Deadline broke the news, reporting that Banks and Max Handelman will be producing the pic via their Brown Productions banner. Also on board to produce are Phil Lord and Chris Miller, who you may know as the duo behind The Lego Movie and the 21 Jump Street comedies.

Cameras on Cocaine Bear are expected to begin rolling later this year.


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