“The bear, it f*cking did cocaine” screams Alden Ehrenreich’s desperate criminal Eddie in the brilliantly titled movie Cocaine Bear.
The character neatly sums up the film’s plot: after consuming a significant amount of cocaine, a 500-pound black bear embarks on a drug-fueled rampage.
Yes, it is as chaotic as that great premise promises, but what is perhaps wilder is that the film draws inspiration from a true story.
In 1985, an American black bear ingested a duffel bag filled with cocaine which had dropped out of the plane of a convicted smuggler. The animal’s body was discovered three months later alongside 40 open containers which had been filled with the drug.
Screenwriter Jimmy Warden stumbled upon the story whilst browsing social media, telling us that he immediately saw potential there for a movie:
“I wasn’t searching for something to write, I just saw this story and was curious. It was just a headline and a photo, but it sent me down a rabbit hole.
“I read everything that I could about it and made the decision early on that I wanted to make a movie, but one about the bear. Of course, to do that you couldn’t tell the true story because the bear sadly died.
“However, I thought it was a perfect jumping off point for a monster movie, but one grounded in reality.”
As Warden mentions there, Cocaine Bear is only loosely inspired by the true story, reimagining what might have happened had it survived and, well, started killing anyone who crossed its path.
Although it is indeed a “monster movie”, the bear – nicknamed ‘Cokey’, of course – is shown much empathy as it is understood that it’s not her fault that she’s been put into this position.
For Warden, this sympathetic approach was the key to unlocking the story, as he explained to Zavvi: “These beasts are out there in the wild, they are real, and they can hurt you.
“There is something primal about our fear of nature but here, having compassion for the bear is important, it’s the point.
“The first decision I made was not to kill the bear – it deserved a revision of history. Whilst I wouldn’t hope it’d kill people, this is my fun, dark reimagining of what could have happened in an alternate universe.”
For the latest edition of our free digital magazine The Lowdown, Warden dives further into the movie and discusses his plans for a “Cocaine Cinematic Universe“.