‘Cocaine Bear’ Claws $2 Million at the Thursday Box Office

Universal’s grizzly comedy-slasher opens opposite Lionsgate’s “Jesus Revolution”

Universal Pictures

“Cocaine Bear” roared its way to the top of the Thursday box office with $2 million in previews. 

Universal’s comedy-thriller will play in 3,534 North American theaters starting Friday. It’s slated to open somewhere in the mid-teens, with the possibility of hitting $20 million in ticket sales this weekend. For a comparison, the Christmas action comedy “Violent Night” made $1.1 million in Thursday preview showings to kick off a $13 million opening weekend. 

Directed by Elizabeth Banks, Jimmy Warden’s stranger-than-fiction screenplay tells the story of Cokey the Bear, a Black bear who in 1985 consumed a large amount of cocaine a drug runner had dropped into a Georgia forest. In real life, the bear died shortly thereafter, but in this wild retelling it goes on a murderous rampage while on the prowl for more blow.

The large cast of characters – tourists, drug dealers, park rangers and more – who are unfortunate enough to cross paths with Cocaine Bear includes Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Christian Convery, Alden Ehrenreich, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Brooklynn Prince, Isiah Whitlock Jr., Kristofer Hivju, Hannah Hoekstra, Aaron Holliday, Margo Martindale and Ray Liotta.

Banks, Max Handelman, Phil Lord, Christopher Miller, Brian Duffield and Aditya Sood produced the film on a $35 million budget – most of which was spent on the eponymous CGI bear.

Along with “Cocaine Bear,” this weekend also sees the debut of “Jesus Revolution” from Lionsgate and Kingdom Story Company. The religious film tells the true story of the 1970s Christian movement that united hippies and conservative Christians. Joel Courtney, Kelsey Grammer and Jonathan Roumie star. Jon Erwin and Brent McCorkle directed from a script by Jon Gunn and Jon Erwin.

“Jesus Revolution” began preview showings on Wednesday. It made an estimated $940,000 at the Thursday box office, bringing its gross total to $3.3 million. The film opens in 2,475 North American theaters and is expected to draw between $6 and $7 million at the box office this weekend.