One of the most promising dramas on the pike has been axed. Deadline Hollywood reports that just before Cartel was slated to begin shooting, the studio released the following statement: "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." Sources also note: "there were concerns about the budget, the script, and the complexities of shooting a drug-related drama on location in Mexico."

This latest blow wasn't the first -- Sean Penn was originally set to star in the drama, but backed out when he took that brief hiatus from Hollywood. (Seemingly pointless since none of the projects he had to back out of have been filmed yet, but I digress.) A remake of La scorta, to be directed by Ghosts of Cite Soleil helmer Asger Leth (pictured above), the film was to follow the story of a man who tries to protect his son after his wife is murdered by a Mexican cartel. Josh Brolin was scheduled to take his place, and things seemed on the up and up.

It's a damned shame. Leth proved to have immense directorial talent when he went into the Haitian slums of Cite Soleil and filmed the story of two gang leader brothers. (If you haven't seen it, you must.) This was to be his break-out feature. Maybe another studio is itching to bite? It worked for the once-tanked American Gangster.

*"Soleil" corrected
categories Cinematical