HomeAmerican Entertainment‘Cocaine Bear’: The Wild True Story Behind One of Ray Liotta’s Final Movies

‘Cocaine Bear’: The Wild True Story Behind One of Ray Liotta’s Final Movies

by Craig Garrett
(Photo by Vincent Sandoval/Getty Images)

The trailer for the upcoming film Cocaine Bear recently went viral, and it’s even more outrageous than the premise. Elizabeth Banks will be helming what will most likely be the zaniest film of 2023. The plot follows a crazed grizzly bear who eats an absurd amount of cocaine, causing it to go on a rampage. However, the weirdest part about the crazy premise is that it’s in part based on a real-life event.

The trailer, which was released on Thursday morning, starts with two passers-by who discover a gruesome scene in a cabin. It’s evident that something evil has taken place there, and they are then faced with a growling bear. A news report then reveals how millions of dollars worth of cocaine ‘fell from the sky’ after a drug smuggler jettisoned his cargo mid-flight. 

Of course, a drug dealer (played by the late Ray Liotta) won’t let his large batch of drugs simply vanish in the middle of a forest. He sends goons to retrieve his missing narcotics. The bear ate a large chunk of the batch, and as it came down from its high, chaos ensued. The drug causes the bear to become hungrier, leading it on a bloody rampage throughout the forest.

The true story behind ‘Cocaine Bear’

The true story, which took place in 1985, is about a Colombian drug runner who abandoned more than 70lbs of cocaine in the Chattahoochee National Forest. A bear discovered the stash and ate all of the drugs, dying as a result of an overdose. The New York Times reported at the time that 40 containers with cocaine residue were found.

Variety excised this portion from the NYT’s piece. “The cocaine was apparently dropped from a plane piloted by Andrew Thornton, a convicted drug smuggler who died Sept. 11 in Knoxville, Tenn., because he was carrying too heavy a load while parachuting.” The Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall in Lexington, Ky., is currently exhibiting the bear.

The official film synopsis for Cocaine Bear carries some of the real story. “Inspired by the 1985 true story of a drug runner’s plane crash, missing cocaine, and the black bear that ate it, this wild dark comedy finds an oddball group of cops, criminals, tourists and teens converging in a Georgia forest where a 500-pound apex predator has ingested a staggering amount of cocaine and gone on a coke-fuelled rampage for more blow … and blood.”

The new film stars the late Ray Liotta in one of his final roles. The cast also includes O’Shea Jackson Jr, Keri Russell, Alden Ehrenreich, Margo Martindale, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Brooklynn Prince, and Christian Convery. The film will be released in theaters on Feb. 24, 2023.