‘Cocaine Bear’ To Hit Wyoming Theaters On Friday; Some Theaters To Have Sneak Preview

Good news! The highly-anticipated movie 'Cocaine Bear' will be released later this week. Wyoming outdoorsmen say it is an appropriate movie for the Cowboy State as there are frequent human-bear incidents but none, that they know of, involving cocaine-addled grizzlies though.

Mark Heinz

February 20, 20235 min read

Cocaine bear
(Cowboy State Daily Staff)

The idea of watching the fictionalized account of a bear ripped on cocaine ripping through hapless victims is just too good to pass up for some in Wyoming, often considered a hotbed for human-bear encounters. 

Noted Wyoming outdoorsman Paul Ulrich said there’s no movie theatre in his hometown of Pinedale, but he’s nonetheless stoked to try catching this week’s premier of “Cocaine Bear.”

“It will hit a streaming service sooner or later, and I’m excited for it,” Ulrich told Cowboy State Daily. “It’s not every day that you get to see a bear hopped up on cocaine.”

Avid Wyoming outdoorsman Jaden Bales said he, too, is looking forward to the film. 

“It’s a goofy reminder that we are living with these critters and one man’s trash can quickly become one bear’s food, or in this case, drug trip,” he told Cowboy State Daily. 

“Cocaine Bear” is set to premier nationwide Friday. However, some theatres in Wyoming are set to host early showings Thursday evening (see listings below).

Humble Beginings 

When the first trailer for “Cocaine Bear” dropped last fall, it looked as if the film, at best, might achieve B-movie cult status. 

Some Wyoming residents told Cowboy State Daily at the time that it looked like an off-beat oddity that might be fun, but wasn’t likely to generate too mamy ticket sales.

The film features some big-name actors, including Keri Russel and Ray Liotta in one of his last roles before he died last year at age 67. 

Its premise is simple: A black bear gets into the stash of some drug runners and consumes massive amounts of cocaine before going on a bloody rampage. 

The Buzz Catches On

Despite its initial appearance as an offbeat novelty, “Cocaine Bear” in the months since its announcement has been jacked up to mainstream status. The trailer has snagged roughly 15 million views on YouTube. 

The titular character got his own hysterical poster during the broadcast of the Super Bowl, complete with stats for “kill count” and “grams consumed.”

Moreover, “Cocaine Bear” has already been turned into a video game. 

And Elizabeth Banks, the movie’s director and co-producer, said in a recent interview on the Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon that she keeps the “head” of the Cocaine Bear – a prop used during the filming – in her home office. 

There’s even an 8-bit online video game people can play for free where the player controls Cocaine Bear, who chomps down piles of cocaine to fuel up while chasing and chomping on campers (in the vein of Pac-Man).

So, it could end up generating some impressive lines at the box office after all.

The official movie poster for “Cocaine Bear,” right, along with a Super Bowl graphic-style mock-up of Cocaine Bear’s stats.

‘True Story’ … Well, Sort Of

Promotions for “Cocaine Bear” state that the film is “inspired” by actual events. And it is – in the most loose of terms.

In 1985, drug runner Andrew Thorton figured out how to evade narcotics officers by dropping loads of contraband from small aircraft over remote areas of the southeastern United States, sometimes parachuting out with his product. He was killed during a parachute drop in September that year. 

However, some of his stashes remained intact. The carcass of a black bear was found in northern Georgia amid numerous open packages of the late drug runners’ cocaine. It was surmised that the bear had eaten the cocaine and died from an overdose. 

During her “Tonight Show” interview, Banks said she based the film on an imagining of “what might have happened in the first few hours” after the bear got high. 

As Wyoming braces for snowstorms early this week, Ulrich said it was too bad he couldn’t watch the wildly fictionalized tale of a bear caught in a different type of snowstorm a few days early. 

“It would be the perfect sort of film to watch over a streaming service on an afternoon like today when I have the day off,” he said.

If You Go

If you want to be among the first to see “Cocaine Bear” in Wyoming, it’s showing in a handful of cities, according to showtimes.com. It opens with sneak peeks Thursday evening at these theaters:

• Studio City Digital Cinemas, Casper

• Studio City Mesa + ARQ, Casper

• Capitol City Digital Cinemas, Cheyenne

• Aspen Cinemas, Evanston

• Regal Fox Theater, Laramie

• Studio City UW Plaza, Laramie

• Gem Theater, Riverton

Contact theaters for exact times for showings.

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Mark Heinz

Outdoors Reporter