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'Cocaine Bear' finally has a release date. Who's in the movie and when you can watch

The bizarre story of a 1985 drug heist gone wrong and the infamous Kentucky bear who gobbled up a large quantity of the "loot" is the subject of the high-octane new thriller "Cocaine Bear" being directed by actress and director Elizabeth Banks.

Here's what we know:

When is 'Cocaine Bear' scheduled to be released?

According to Universal Pictures, " Cocaine Bear" will be released exclusively to theaters on Feb. 24, 2023.

Who is in the cast of 'Cocaine Bear?'

"Cocaine Bear" was one of actor Ray Liotta's final projects. The actor died in his sleep in May 2022. The film also stars Keri Russell, O'Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Christian Convery, Margo Martindale, and Matthew Rhys. Actor and director Elizabeth Banks directs the film, which is written by Jimmy Warden.

"Cocaine Bear" official film poster
"Cocaine Bear" official film poster

Can I watch a trailer for 'Cocaine Bear?'

Universal Pictures released the official trailer for the movie Wednesday. Get your first look here:

Is 'Cocaine Bear' a true story?

Sometimes reality is stranger than fiction and in the case of "Cocaine Bear," this is certainly true. In 1985 a 175-pound black bear consumed the contents of a duffle bag filled with more than 70 pounds of cocaine. (That's roughly $15 million worth of "blow.")

The drugs were dropped from an airplane by a Kentucky drug runner, Andrew Thornton. The drug smuggler, who was the son of a wealthy Kentucky family of horse breeders, didn't fare too well either.

According to a display at the Georgia Bureau of Investigation headquarters, Thornton fell to his death when he bailed out of the plane, "hit his head on the tail of the aircraft" and didn't open his parachute until it was too late.

The Cocaine Bear, now shown at the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall, was a 175-pound black bear from Chattahoochee National Forest that died after eating about 75 pounds of cocaine that was lost by Kentuckian drug smuggler Andrew Thornton in 1985. The Georgia state examiner had the animal taxidermised. Waylon Jennings once owned the stuffed bear. March 4, 2020.
The Cocaine Bear, now shown at the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall, was a 175-pound black bear from Chattahoochee National Forest that died after eating about 75 pounds of cocaine that was lost by Kentuckian drug smuggler Andrew Thornton in 1985. The Georgia state examiner had the animal taxidermised. Waylon Jennings once owned the stuffed bear. March 4, 2020.

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What became of the real 'Cocaine Bear?'

The Cocaine Bear, now shown at the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall, was a 175-pound black bear from Chattahoochee National Forest that died after eating about 75 pounds of cocaine that was lost by Kentuckian drug smuggler Andrew Thornton in 1985. The Georgia state examiner had the animal taxidermised. Waylon Jennings once owned the stuffed bear. March 4, 2020.
The Cocaine Bear, now shown at the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall, was a 175-pound black bear from Chattahoochee National Forest that died after eating about 75 pounds of cocaine that was lost by Kentuckian drug smuggler Andrew Thornton in 1985. The Georgia state examiner had the animal taxidermised. Waylon Jennings once owned the stuffed bear. March 4, 2020.

As we wait for February 2023 and the film version of this bear-centric thriller, the real furry icon has found a permanent home in the Bluegrass State. Cocaine Bear was stuffed and is now the mascot at the Kentucky for Kentucky Fun Mall, 720 Bryan Ave., Lexington.

Reach Features reporter Kirby Adams at kadams@courier-journall.com.

This article originally appeared on Louisville Courier Journal: When is 'Cocaine Bear' coming out in theater? Watch the trailer now