Is Cocaine Bear a true story?: Georgia authorities found a 175-pound black bear high on cocaine in the woods in 1985.
The dead animal was discovered close to a duffel bag that contained almost 70 pounds of cocaine and had been dropped from a plane by narcotics traffickers.
However, the bag was ripped apart, and the Class-A drug’s empty packets, thought to be worth $15 million, were spread around the forest.
Now, thanks to director and actress Elizabeth Banks, the fascinating true story of the so-called Cocaine Bear Movie can be seen in theatres.
Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Isiah Whitlock Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, Margo Martindale, and Ray Liotta, in his final film performance before his death in 2022, star in the horror-comedy, which has stormed into theatres.
Drug lord Syd, played by Liotta (Goodfellas) and assisted by Thornton’s son Eddie (Ehrenreich), tries to steal back his stash.
Is the Cocaine Bear a myth, and how much of the film is based on truth? Keep reading to find out the real backstory of Cocaine Bear.
Is Cocaine Bear a true story?
The horror comedy is inspired by the true incident of a 175-pound black bear which, sometime in December 1985, found and ate millions of pounds’ worth of cocaine in a woodland in Georgia.
The bear actually consumed the cocaine, said to be worth $15 million, and then overdosed, only to be discovered by authorities looking for drugs dropped by an aerial smuggler, Andrew Thornton.
Authorities at the time speculated that the bear had consumed “several million dollars’ worth of the cocaine,” as reported by the Associated Press at the time.
According to Gary Garner of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation, “the bear got to it before we could, and he tore the duffel bag open, got him some cocaine, and OD’d” (overdosed).
“There’s nothing left but bones and a big hide,” he continued of the animal.
Thornton, a former lawyer and narcotics police officer, was said to have abandoned the packages from his plane months earlier on his return from a cocaine haul in Colombia, which is how the drugs wound up in the woods.
After releasing the parcels, Thornton set the jet to autopilot and jumped out of the plane while wearing additional cocaine.
This decision proved fatal, as he was discovered in a Knoxville, Tennessee driveway after his parachute had failed to deploy.
The Washington Post reported that Thornton, who was killed in a plane crash several hours away in the North Carolina mountains, was equipped with night vision goggles, a bulletproof vest, $4,500 in cash, two firearms, and the plane’s keys.
Authorities tracked down nine duffel bags of cocaine by following the path of Thornton’s plane.
However, the bear got to the tenth before them.
The dead bear was found in the Chattahoochee National Forest, which is located just south of the state boundary between Tennessee and Georgia, three months after Thornton’s death.
While the bear is based on a real person, the human characters in the film, including those played by Keri Russell, Alden Ehrenreich, and the late Ray Liotta, are all made up.
However, Banks highlighted to RadioTimes.com and other journalists that having believable human beings was crucial to the success of her film.
“Because I’m an actor first, I was really drawn to the character arcs,” she explained. I wanted to feel more connected to my daughter, I’m going through a divorce; these were real individuals with real problems.
Isiah Whitlock Jr.’s character, Bob, has no one to love and eventually comes upon a dog that he is the only one who can truly care for. Alden Ehrenreich’s character, Eddie, is grieving the death of his wife and searching for the words to comfort his young kid. That was the part of the movie that really spoke to me, and I liked it.
Did Cocaine Bear kill anyone in real life?
The horror comedy, as described above, is based on a real bear that overdosed on cocaine and became extremely violent.
Despite the film’s depiction of a second killing spree by the beast, no such event has been confirmed.
Banks told RadioTimes.com and other media outlets that she was inspired to create the killing spree because she saw the movie as an opportunity to “avenge” the animal’s death.
“I felt so bad for the bear itself,” she said. Since the genuine bear unfortunately passed away due to heroin overdose. So the idea that I could exact some measure of revenge on the original bear’s murder by means of this film thrilled me immensely.
Although the bear’s murderous rampage in the film is totally fictitious, a clip contrasting the movie’s titular bear with a sober one was released on the film’s official Twitter account to demonstrate the risk posed by a bear high on cocaine.
It is said that a Cocaine Bear can smell “everything” from a mile away, can climb at a speed of up to 100 feet per second, and can reach speeds of up to 75 miles per hour, while an ordinary bear can only smell things at a distance of one mile and can only climb at a speed of four feet per second.
Where is Cocaine Bear located now?
However, that’s not the final chapter in the bear’s tale. Kentucky The original stuffed bear is on display at a For Kentucky store in Lexington, Kentucky.
Cocaine filled its tummy to overflowing. “There isn’t a mammal on the planet that could survive that,” the medical examiner who performed the necropsy on the bear said to the retailer.
“Brain bleeding, respiratory failure, high body temperature, kidney failure, heart failure, and stroke. That bear was stocked up on everything.