It looks like Universal Pictures’ Cartel simply can’t catch a break—Deadline reports that the movie, “inspired by the 1993 Italian piece La Scorta,” has been abruptly canceled by the studio just five weeks before its scheduled shoot in Mexico City. Add this to its previous troubles that included Sean Penn dropping out as the lead for “personal reasons,” and you’ve got a film cursed with the kiss of death.

Josh Brolin was set as Penn’s recast in the film that would center on “a man hellbent on protecting his son after his wife is brutally murdered after mixing in the world of Mexican drug cartels.” Man, if you can’t shoot a movie in the middle of a foreign city that’s actually fighting the drug cartels in real life, where can you go?

It’s rumored that “concerns about the budget, the script, and the complexities of filming a drug-related drama on location in Mexico” are what did Cartel in but here’s the official word from Universal:

“Universal Pictures and Imagine Entertainment ceased pre-production of Cartel today. As much as we had hoped to begin filming this spring in Mexico City, the studio and its producing partners did not feel it was creatively ready to move forward under the timetable and budget we had established. We thank all of the filmmakers, cast and crew for their work during pre-production.”

While it’s nice to see Hollywood execs actually having some forethought and seriously considering the financial consequences of their actions before spending millions of dollars during a recession, it’s sad to hear about such a promising project slipping through the studios fingers while a slew of crappy  3-D movies continue to saturate the market. Sigh—always a bridesmaid, never a bride.

What do you think of this? Is Cartel doomed to be unfinished?