Elizabeth Banks has set her next directing gig — inspired by an (almost unbelievable) true story involving cocaine smuggling and a 175-pound bear.
Banks has signed on to direct “Cocaine Bear,” which is described as a “character-driven thriller inspired by true events that took place in Kentucky in 1985,” produced by “The Lego Movie” filmmakers Phil Lord and Chris Miller.
As such, the project also serves as a reunion for Banks, Lord and Miller after the actor voiced Wyldstyle in the animated franchise. Lord and Miller’s production banner (Lord Miller) will produce the project as part of the duo’s first-look deal with Universal Pictures.
The script for “Cocaine Bear” comes from Jimmy Warden, but additional information around the project, is being kept under wraps.
Now, back to the bear.
According to a New York Times report, published in Dec. 1985, the bear died of an apparent cocaine overdose, found by the Georgia Bureau of Investigations in northern Georgia, “among 40 opened plastic containers with traces of cocaine.”
“The cocaine was apparently dropped from a plane piloted by Andrew Thornton, a convicted drug smuggler who died Sept. 11 in Knoxville, Tenn., because he was carrying too heavy a load while parachuting,” the report explains.
Lord Miller’s Aditya Sood brought the project to Universal and will also produce the film alongside Brian Duffield, as well as Banks and Max Handelman (who produce under their Brownstone Productions banner). Brownstone Productions previously produced the highly lucrative “Pitch Perfect” franchise for Universal.
EVP of Production Matt Reilly and Creative Executive Christine Sun will oversee the project on behalf of Universal.
Banks and Brownstone are represented by UTA, Untitled Entertainment, Relevant, and Ziffren Brittenham LLP.