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A fierce debate is raging online about whether Cocaine Bear should be considered a good movie or not.

We’re only two months into 2023 but, after the unprecedented success of M3GAN – thanks in part to the horror movie going viral online pre-release – another new horror movie in Cocaine Bear is cooking up a storm on social media.

What, you’ve never heard of Cocaine Bear? Allow us to paint you a picture. Loosely inspired by a true story centered around the infamous, well, ‘Cocaine Bear’, the Universal Pictures comedy-horror flick tells the 1985 tale of a grizzly bear that ingests a duffel bag of the psychostimulant drug.

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In the film adaptation, the 500-pound bear – which, in the real world, is affectionately known as Pablo Eskobear (you know, after legendary drug kingpin Pablo Escobar) – goes on a drug-fuelled, bloodlust-style rampage across north Georgia, killing anyone in its path.

Following the release of its official trailer in December 2022, Cocaine Bear quickly gained traction online, with social media users drumming up support for the B-movie ahead of its theatrical release. However, with the film now out in theaters worldwide, Cocaine Bear has become the talk of the social media town, with millions of people debating whether it’s a good movie or not.

First up is the “it’s good!” camp. At the time of writing, Cocaine Bear has an 83% certified fresh rating on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes (opens in new tab). Even more surreal is its rating among professional critics – Cocaine Bear earned a not-too-shabby 72% from 123 reviews. At one point, Cocaine Bear even had the seemingly unattainable 100% review rating on the same website, which is (or was) an utterly mind-blowing feat.

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In the hours since its public release, Cocaine Bear is proving to be a certifiable hit. Twitter users, such as Edwin De Paz (opens in new tab), have uploaded images of long queues of people waiting to see the movie in theaters. Some, including George Clark (opens in new tab) and Beck&Woods (opens in new tab), have taken to social media to hail the film as one of the best flicks of 2023 so far, while others like ReedReads4 jokingly praised M3GAN and Cocaine Bear – both of which are owned by Universal – for saving the theater-going experience. Sorry, Tom Cruise and Top Gun: Maverick – Steven Spielberg was wrong to say you saved cinema.

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It’s not all been good news, though. There are plenty of people who just don’t get the appeal of Cocaine Bear, with Twitter users vibewitkeezy (opens in new tab) and internetmoso (opens in new tab) asking how such a dumb-looking film could be made in the 21st century. Elsewhere, Alan Zilberman (opens in new tab) said it was “bad and not in a fun way”, while Patrick Vicious wanted Cocaine Bear to be a ‘so bad it’s good’ kind of movie. Unfortunately for Patrick, he didn’t think it was.

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It’s unclear how much money Cocaine Bear will actually make. Per Variety (opens in new tab), the Elizabeth Banks-directed movie made $2 million on opening night. With a reported budget of $20 million, it’ll need to sell a lot more tickets to recoup its production and marketing costs.

Still, it doesn’t seem like its box office performance will prevent Cocaine Bear from getting a sequel. According to those who have seen the film, a Marvel-style ‘Cocaine Bear will return’ tagline is shown after the credits have rolled. This could be a way of mocking superhero films and how they’re dominating the Hollywood landscape, but we’d like to think that Pablo Esokbear will be back for more gory misadventures in the future.

Even if it doesn’t get a follow-up, Cocaine Bear and M3GAN prove there’s still an audience for experimental, non-superhero films in today’s market. When supposedly heavy hitters like Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania have earned less-than-stellar reviews – read our Ant-Man and the Wasp: Quantumania review for more – it’s heartwarming to see movies like Cocaine Bear dominate the moviegoing conversation. 

Who knows what the next viral film hit will be? For now, though, Cocaine Bear rules the stage – and it’s prepared to take a hefty bite out of the competition while it’s in theaters (expect it to come to Peacock, Universal’s streaming service, sometime soon, too).

For more horror genre-based coverage, read our best horror movies article. Alternatively, see what the best horror movies are on Shudder, the world’s leading horror, thriller, and supernatural-centric streaming platform.

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