Cocaine Bear screenwriter Jimmy Warden can’t believe the bonkers film got made, let alone that people are asking him about potential sequels. The seed of the idea was planted when Warden heard about the real-life story concerning a bear consuming cocaine. Sadly, the animal simply overdosed on the copious amounts of coke it discovered via a botched drug run.
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However, Warden didn’t want to do a straight adaptation of the source material. Instead, he penned something of an animal lover’s revenge tale. The script was “my twisted fantasy of what I wish actually happened after the bear did all that cocaine,” he told Variety.
When Warden first sent his script to Lord Miller, the production company created by filmmakers Phil Lord and Christopher Miller, he hadn’t anticipated that it would ever make its way onto movie screens. This was where he’d begun his Hollywood career as a PA on their live-action debut feature film 21 Jump Street. Despite the fact that they are renowned for making movies – such as The LEGO Movie which defy conventions in an enjoyable manner; Warden wasn’t banking on any success with his project.
Most of the ‘Cocaine Bear’ budget went to special effects
Universal decided to divert their $35 million budget into Cocaine Bear, a photo-realistic, drug-addicted black bear crafted by Weta FX. At 33 years old, Warden has already directed his first indie thriller movie – Borderline starring Samara Weaving (his wife). The screenwriter revealed that the script was first intended as a calling card.
“I never thought anybody was going to make this movie,” Warden explained. “When you have a script, you want to do anything to get people to read it. So there was never any question in my mind that the movie would be called Cocaine Bear.” However, he thought eventually the studio might chicken out on the bold title.” I think that if you asked me back then I would have been like, if it ever gets made, I assume people are probably going to want to change the name. But Universal never did.”
Warden, who grew up on 80s splatter horror, purposely swung for the fences when it came to over-the-top violence in Cocaine Bear. “I made it overly violent on purpose,” he said. “At a certain point you cross the line and [screen violence] becomes so messed up that you can’t help but laugh.
However, Warden doesn’t believe that the violence will turn off audiences. It’s not the fringe, pit-of-your-stomach sort of violence; it becomes its own genre in a certain way. This is certainly not the first movie to do that. But I think that [director Elizabeth Banks] executed in a way that this movie definitely crosses the line in terms of gore, but I don’t think it really alienates the audience.”
Cocaine Bear rampages through theaters on February 24th.