Box Office: ‘Cocaine Bear’ Cracks $8.6 Million Opening Day, ‘Ant-Man 3’ Projects Record Drop for Marvel

The box office can be an institution of simple pleasures. Hollywood releases the story of a rampaging bear drugged out of its mind and — what do you know? — the people roll out.

“Cocaine Bear” drew a solid $8.6 million opening day gross from 3,534 theaters, a figure that includes $2 million in previews on Thursday. That places the Universal release ahead of projections heading into the weekend, which had the gory comedy pegged at a debut between $15 million and $17 million. But a fun online marketing campaign and a killer premise have given the film a strong position, with a debut north of $21 million now in the cards.

That would mark an auspicious kick-off for “Cocaine Bear,” which carries a production budget of $35 million. Reviews have been a bit all over the place; the film carries a 51% approval rating from top critics on review aggregate website Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences are also a bit lukewarm, as the comedy landed a “B-” grade through research firm Cinema Score, though a middling grade is fairly standard for a genre release with a horror slant. But, at the end of the day, “Cocaine Bear” is titled “Cocaine Bear”; the straightforward premise is now a proven winner and audiences can only see the film to believe it.

Alongside a CGI bear (no real bears did cocaine in the making of this film), “Cocaine Bear” stars Keri Russell, O’Shea Jackson Jr., Alden Ehrenreich, Jesse Tyler Ferguson, Ray Liotta and Brooklynn Prince. Inspired by a true story, the film follows the residents of a small town in Georgia who must survive a murderous bear after it ingests a duffel bag filled with cocaine. The film is (very loosely) based on a true story.

While “Cocaine Bear” was the biggest earner on Friday, it likely will land in second place on weekend charts, behind the sophomore outing of “Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania.” But though the superhero entry is staying a step ahead of the competition, Marvel has certainly faced better box office days.

The Disney release plummeted in its second Friday with an $8.3 million gross, marking an 82% drop from its opening day last week. Industry projections are forecasting roughly $30 million for the “Ant-Man” entry, which would mark a 72% week-to-week drop. That would be a record for a Marvel Cinematic Universe film, none of which have tumbled more than 70% in a second weekend before. In fact, the only film to land a domestic opening above $100 million before falling more than 70% is the final “Harry Potter” entry, 2011’s “The Deathly Hallows — Part 2.”

More to come…

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