Cocaine Bear’s Absurdist Premise Points to Decent Box Office Opening

Cocaine Bear’s Absurdist Premise Points to Decent Box Office Opening

Cocaine Bear — releasing Friday in theatres — might not be in the same league as Marvel’s Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, but early estimates suggest it could pave the way for more promising mid-budget movies. As per Variety, the Elizabeth Banks-directed dark comedy film is expected to rake in $15 million (about Rs. 124 crore) to $17 million (about Rs. 141 crore) at the North American box office, during its opening weekend — aiming for the second spot in the region, right behind Ant-Man 3. Produced at a $35 million (about Rs. 290 crore) budget, it will be interesting to see how things play out globally.

Evoking the sense of an absurd Reddit story reinterpreted for the screen, the film could gain traction for simply being oddball — aimed at a younger audience, expecting some campy horror and laughs to go along. A big-budget company such as Universal Pictures backing it could only mean more publicity, with Variety estimating that positive buzz could propel it to a $20 million (about Rs. 166 crore) opening in the US and Canada. Universal has been putting out advertisements and trailers for Cocaine Bear on their Indian channels, but there is no word on whether the film will be screened in other languages besides English. The company also put out a pixelated browser video game for the same, last week, in which you chase after civilians and pick up duffel bags of cocaine for speed boosts.

In India, the film faces tough competition on both Hollywood and Bollywood fronts. Up first is the aforementioned Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania, which reportedly opened to Rs. 25 crore in its first three days in the country — a great start for a not-so-popular character from the Marvel Cinematic Universe. That said, it still lacks far behind other entries in the franchise, such as Spider-Man: No Way Home, which pulled in Rs. 79 crore within the first three days.

One could assume the low figures partly had to do with Ant-Man 3’s release clashing with the Kartik Aaryan-led Shehzada. The latter reportedly managed to collect Rs. 20.20 crore within the same time span, within India. When Cocaine Bear releases on February 24, it will also be up against Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, which recently crossed the $400 million (about Rs. 3,313 crore) mark at the worldwide box office. Shah Rukh Khan-led Pathaan is another hurdle in its path, having collected over Rs 1000 crore globally, as of Tuesday. Variety notes that Ant-Man and the Wasp Quanumania will retain its no. 1 spot, going into the second week as well, displaying the strongest opening in the shrinking superhero trilogy. At the time of writing, Ant-Man 3 has collected $250.1 million (about Rs. 2,072 crore) in worldwide ticket sales.

Inspired by a true event from the mid-1980s, Cocaine Bear explores the drama and fight for survival surrounding an oddball group of tourists, cops, and criminals — whose lives converge in a Georgia forest, after an American black bear unintentionally consumes a bag of cocaine and goes on a hellish rampage. While the beast was found dead in real life, Banks’ upcoming comedy paints a “what if” scenario, where the bear survives and creates havoc in its path, looking for more blow. This marks the third directorial gig for actor-turned-filmmaker Banks, who made her debut with Pitch Perfect 2.

As stated before, Cocaine Bear is budgeted at $35 million, most of which goes towards Weta FX to bring the coke-addled bear to life. The company was also responsible for special effects in the Peter Jackson Lord of the Rings trilogy and James Cameron’s latest Avatar: The Way of Water. Cocaine Bear features an ensemble cast including Keri Russell (Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker), O’Shea Jackson Jr./ Ice Cube, Alden Ehrenreich (Solo: A Star Wars Story), Jesse Tyler Ferguson (Modern Family), and Ray Liotta (Goodfellas).

Cocaine Bear releases February 24 in theatres worldwide.

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