Mark Mothersbaugh Scores 'Cocaine Bear' and 'The Magician's Elephant'

You wish you had range like this

Photos: Daniel Benavides (Mothersbaugh), Netflix, Universal

BY Calum SlingerlandPublished Feb 7, 2023

There's no other way to say it: Mark Mothersbaugh has truly gone wild with a pair of recent film score work, lending his musical mind to films about the drugged-out, dangerous ursus cocaini and a magical mammal. 

The co-founding frontman of Devo has scored both Cocaine Bear from director Elizabeth Banks, and Netflix's forthcoming adaptation of The Magician's Elephant helmed by director Wendy Rogers.

Cocaine Bear — among Exclaim!'s Most Anticipated Films of 2023 — is a crime thriller from actor-turned-director Banks, inspired by the true story of a drug runner's plane wreck and the black bear that subsequently sniffed up the stash. It arrives February 24, and you can revisit the wild trailer here.

Based on the 2009 book by American author Kate DiCamillo, follows a 10-year-old told by a fortuneteller that an elephant will lead him to his lost sister. The animated adaptation, arriving on Netlix March 17, features voice acting from Noah Jupe, Mandy Patinkin, Brian Tyree Henry, Pixie Davies, Natasia Demetriou, Sian Clifford, Benedict Wong and more.

Speaking with Cleveland Magazine in September, Mothersbaugh shared that both scores were recorded last July with the London Symphony Orchestra. 

Of Cocaine Bear, the artist shared, "It's based on a true story, but this isn't a true story. This is a gory, dark-comedy fictional version of the true story of the bear that found cocaine that drug dealers had dropped into the forest by accident and went on a rampage. You see a lot of kind of dumb people, you see their last few minutes before they die because they do something stupid right before they die that involves a bear high on cocaine."

Mothersbaugh describes The Magician's Elephant as "a magic realism film," sharing, "There's a little slim book for that, like a kid's book, called The Magician's Elephant. The book is really quite charming, and I think we keep it in that territory with the film. It was a lot of fun."

Cocaine Bear marks Mothersbaugh's second collaboration with director Banks, having last scored her 2015 musical comedy Pitch Perfect 2.

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