Elizabeth Banks to direct ‘Cocaine Bear’ movie about a real-life bear that ate 70 pounds of cocaine

The Pittsfield native's newest project is pretty wild.

Elizabeth Banks will direct the upcoming movie "Cocaine Bear."
Elizabeth Banks will direct the upcoming movie "Cocaine Bear." Getty Images; AP file photo

After paltry box office returns for her 2019 “Charlie’s Angels” reboot, Elizabeth Banks (“The Hunger Games”) is hoping audiences find her newest directorial project more bearable.

According to multiple reports, the Pittsfield native will make her return to the director’s chair for Universal with “Cocaine Bear,” a thriller based on a true story about a Kentucky black bear that consumed more than 70 pounds of cocaine dropped in the woods by drug trafficker Andrew Thornton. (Banks later confirmed the reports on her Instagram story, appending the hashtag #CocaineBear.)

While there’s never been a movie that has focused on the titular bear before, Thornton’s tale has been immortalized in multiple books and served as the inspiration of a story arc in the FX series “Justified.” A former narcotics officer turned drug kingpin, Thornton died in 1985 when his parachute failed to deploy after he jumping out of his Cessna on a drug run from Colombia. According to the Lexington Herald-Leader, Thornton was found dead in a Tennessee man’s driveway wearing a bulletproof vest and Gucci loafers, and in possession of 88 pounds of cocaine, six gold Krugerrands, two pistols, knives, and night vision goggles.


Based on a spec script by Jimmy Warden (“21 Jump Street,”) “Cocaine Bear” will be produced by Chris Miller and Phil Lord (“The Lego Movie,” “21 Jump Street,” “Spider-Man: Into the Spider-verse”).

Miller confirmed the news on Twitter as well, writing, “@ElizabethBanks is a dynamo and @jimmywarden_ wrote a great one!”

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