Cocaine Bear Doesn’t Blow On Preview Night As Box Office Numbers For Thursday Drop

 Cokey looking focused while climbing a tree in Cocaine Bear.
Cokey looking focused while climbing a tree in Cocaine Bear.
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Sometimes the craziest ideas are the ones that lead to victory. Universal’s decision to put Cocaine Bear onto its slate of 2023 new movie releases looks like it might be one of those scenarios that proves this theory to be true thanks to some strong preview night numbers. While it doesn’t look like it’ll be the champion of this weekend's box office, Thursday’s early showings didn’t blow, with the full forecasted weekend figures leaving room for some even better news.

Director Elizabeth Banks’ grizzly dark comedy has kicked off its run with an estimated $2 million in early Thursday showings. Coming down from the folks at Variety, projections for the full weekend outlook have Cokey looking to hoover up between $15-20 million of sweet sweet grosses domestically. Putting these figures against a $35 million production budget, plus an unknown marketing spend that’s had this picture front and center for some time, it looks like the bear could have its day.

Currently, Cocaine Bear is the only new wide release hitting theaters after Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania made its debut on last weekend’s box office charts. That Marvel movie looks like it’ll still be at the top of the heap this weekend, although that doesn’t seem to be the largest challenge for this Keri Russell-starring ensemble horror-comedy. If anything, the month of March is about to lay down gauntlets all the way down, trying to stop this ursine usurper in its quest to stash as much cash as possible.

The Top 5 Movies At The Box Office - Feb. 17-19

Ant-Man and The Wasp smiling in costume
Ant-Man and The Wasp smiling in costume

1. Ant-Man And The Wasp: Quantumania - $104,000,000
2. Avatar: The Way Of Water -
3. Magic Mike's Last Dance -
4. Puss In Boots: The Last Wish -
5. Knock At The Cabin -

The next couple of weeks have big ticket challengers like Creed III, Scream VI and Shazam! Fury of the Gods all weighing in. Not to mention, the bonkers-looking Adam Driver dinosaur movie 65 is set to debut in this same time frame, which also plays to audience members drawn to tales of primal pursuit.

If there was anything that could put Cocaine Bear over the competition, it’d have to be the fans. Critical reaction to Cokey’s rampage has been rather high on its enthusiasm, with the film’s Rotten Tomatoes score currently sitting at a 70% from 139 reviews.

Ant-Man 3’s fortunes aren’t so rosy, as the Paul Rudd-led threequel is only the second “Rotten” Marvel movie, though fans seem to love Scott Lang’s return more than critics. Either way, it’s money that talks here, and that’s a conversation we’ll definitely need to save for Sunday afternoon.

Going into these final weeks of hyping up her Universal project, Elizabeth Banks shared her worries that Cocaine Bear could be a potential “career ender” for her directorial slate. Should the results hold up to or exceed what’s being predicted for this weekend, it looks like those fears will be unfounded. In which case, Banks may want to find another absolutely crazy blockbuster to attach herself to while commissioning a mural of herself riding good old Cokey into victory.

Meanwhile, you can get caught up in the powdery madness of Cocaine Bear yourself, as the movie is currently in theaters. Once you’ve taken the ride, there’s plenty of post-rampage material you can indulge in, as we have interviews with the cast of Cocaine Bear, as well as an entire conversation with Elizabeth Banks on the latest episode of ReelBlend.