Choose your fighter: ‘Cocaine Bear’ takes on ‘Ant-Man’ at the box office

A split image of a CGI bear roaring in a forest, left, and a man with short brown hair wearing superhero costume.
The titular black bear in “Cocaine Bear” and Paul Rudd as Scott Lang in “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.”
(Universal Pictures; Marvel Studios)

Universal Pictures’ “Cocaine Bear” couldn’t defeat Disney and Marvel’s “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania” at the domestic box office this weekend, according to estimates from measurement firm Comscore.

The buzzy horror comedy debuted in second place at $23.1 million, behind the superhero sequel, which picked up $32.2 million in its second weekend for a North American cumulative of $167.3 million. The latest “Ant-Man” installment — one of the worst-reviewed Marvel movies of all time — also sustained a steep 70% drop in ticket sales during its sophomore run.

Directed by Elizabeth Banks, “Cocaine Bear” is loosely based on the true story of a black bear that ingested large amounts of cocaine after a drug smuggler’s plane crashed in a Georgia forest in 1985. The star-studded cast of the gory romp includes Keri Russell, Margo Martindale, Alden Ehrenreich, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Kristofer Hivju, Kahyun Kim, Christian Convery, Brooklynn Prince, Scott Seiss and the late Ray Liotta in one of his final roles.


The 1985 account of a bear that ingested a stash of cocaine gets gleefully exaggerated horror-comedy treatment in this latest movie directed by Elizabeth Banks.

Feb. 23, 2023

Bolstered by an innovative marketing campaign that included a Super Bowl commercial and an 8-bit “Rise of Pablo Escobear” video game, “Cocaine Bear” scored a respectable 70% rating on review aggregation site Rotten Tomatoes and a B-minus grade from audiences polled by CinemaScore.

“Whether or not audiences form lines for ‘Cocaine Bear,’ it’s hard to completely dismiss a mainstream horror-comedy that offers a nice supply of sharp and grisly, at least until it takes a disappointing turn for soft and cuddly,” writes Times film critic Justin Chang.

“You’ve seen worse new movies in February, maybe even this February.”

Also new to theaters this weekend was Lionsgate’s “Jesus Revolution,” which secured third place at the domestic box office with $15.5 million. Co-directed by Jon Erwin and Brent McCorkle, the religious film based on the book of the same name stars Joel Courtney as a teenage boy who experiences a spiritual awakening in the 1970s.

“Jesus Revolution” is a dull, sanitized version of the 1960s and ‘70s evangelical Christian movement in Southern California, starring Kelsey Grammer and directed by Jon Erwin and Brent McCorkle.

Feb. 22, 2023

“Jesus Revolution” received a mediocre 54% on Rotten Tomatoes and an A-plus grade from audiences polled by CinemaScore.

“Unfortunately, despite the interesting history, the ‘Jesus Revolution’ is a dry, scattered slog, neutered of all the thorny, contradictory details of the real story,” writes film critic Katie Walsh for the Los Angeles Times.


A new video game promoting Elizabeth Banks’ forthcoming movie ‘Cocaine Bear’ allows you to go on a cocaine-induced rampage through the forest.

Feb. 15, 2023

Rounding out the top five were Disney and 20th Century Studios’ “Avatar: The Way of Water,” which added $4.7 million in its 11th weekend for a North American cumulative of $665.4 million; and Universal Pictures’ “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” which scratched up $4.1 million in its 10th weekend for a North American cumulative of $173.4 million.

“Avatar: The Way of Water” currently stands as the third-highest global release of all time.

Opening in wide release this weekend are STX Entertainment’s “Operation Fortune: Ruse De Guerre” and Welcome Villain’s “Hunt Her, Kill Her.”