Elizabeth Banks to Direct 'Cocaine Bear' Movie

Actress Elizabeth Banks is directing the "Cocaine Bear" movie (bear image via Shutterstock)

Actress Elizabeth Banks has signed on to direct "Cocaine Bear," a movie about an incident in 1985 that left a 175-pound black bear dead from an overdose (true story). A drug smuggler dropped a load over Georgia and the bear, um, sniffed it out. 

On Dec. 22, 1985, UPI reported the bear died after it ate the contents of duffel bags containing 175 pounds of cocaine that were dropped using parachutes from a plane piloted by Kentucky smuggler Andrew "Drew" Thornton. The super-buzzed bear pawed through the coke before it went numb and died. Three months earlier, on September 11, Thornton jumped from that plane over Knoxville, Tennessee (he and his partner set it on autopilot), but his chute didn't wortk and he was killed.

1985 news report in the New York Times


Thornton's story is told with rich detail by Sally Denton in her 2016 book, The Bluegrass Conspiracy. However, it's unclear if the book is being adapted for the silver screen by Banks with backing from Universal Pictures.

Banks has appeared in several stoner movies, including Wet Hot American Summer (2001), The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), Kevin Smith's Zack and Miri Make a Porno (2008) with Seth RogenOur Idiot Brother (2011) and Love & Mercy (2015). She directed Pitch Perfect 2 (2015) and Charlie's Angels (2019).

You may have heard about the co-called "cocaine hippos" of Colombia imported from Africa by drug cartel leader Pablo Escobar in the 1980s. They don't use coke, but the name still stuck.


Become a Patron!


Steve Bloom

Steve Bloom

Publisher of, former editor of High Times and Freedom Leaf and co-author of Pot Culture and Reefer Movie Madness.