‘Cocaine Bear’ Competes with Marvel’s ‘Quantumania,’ Aims for $15 Million+ Launch

Paul Rudd’s subatomic superhero Ant-Man is facing his most terrifying foe yet: a 500-pound black bear high on cocaine.

In terms of weekend ticket sales, Universal’s horrific action-comedy “Cocaine Bear” will fall short of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania,” but the drugged-up animal adventure is likely to start strong at the domestic box office. “Cocaine Bear” is expected to gross $15 million to $17 million from 3,500 North American theatres, with a chance that strong word may push the opening weekend total to $20 million.

The wild R-rated film had a budget of around $35 million, most of which went into the CGI required to bring the coked-out bear to life alongside the human cast of Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, and Brooklynn Prince. “Cocaine Bear,” directed by Elizabeth Banks, is one of today’s few original theatrical comedies. (But, viewers should be aware that it isn’t exactly a laugh-a-minute romp… unless you’re thrilled by blood, blood, and more blood.) The video, inspired by a true-to-life story about a drug runner’s plane crash, imagines what would have happened if the American black bear that devoured a duffel bag full of the blow had lived to tell the tale.

A start in the high teens for “Cocaine Bear” is unlikely to set any box office records, but early estimates suggest it could be a step up from the virtually extinct mid-budget film. High-concept comedies and action-adventures like Billy Eichner’s “Bros” ($4.8 million to start), Gerard Butler’s “Plane” ($10 million to start), Tom Hanks’ “A Man Named Otto” ($12.8 million to start), and “80 for Brady” ($12.7 million to start) have had uneven box office results. Nonetheless, they perform best in the theatre when budgets are kept to a minimum.

“Cocaine Bear” is hoping for a second-place finish at the domestic box office, trailing last weekend’s winner, “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” Both films target younger male moviegoers. The third Marvel film centered on Rudd’s pint-sized Avenger overcame poor reviews, grossing $120 million in the United States and $249 million worldwide during President’s Day weekend. In addition to becoming the first film to gross $100 million in the United States in 2023, “Quantumania” outperformed its predecessors, 2015’s “Ant-Man” ($57 million) and 2018’s sequel “Ant-Man and the Wasp” ($76 million).

“Ant-Man 3” will remain No. 1 in its second weekend of release, despite a 55% to 65% drop in ticket sales. If the threequel performs similarly to the original two “Ant-Man” films, as well as recent Marvel flicks such as “Eternals” or “Thor: Love and Thunder,” the latest adventure might add $35 million to $40 million in its sophomore trip.

According to Comscore, the box office in 2023 will be 47% higher than the previous year. Michael B. Jordan’s sports drama “Creed III,” Paramount’s horror “Scream VI,” Warner Bros. superhero sequel “Shazam: Fury of the Gods,” and “John Wick: Chapter 4” all want to keep the momentum going in the coming weeks.