Sometimes a movie’s subject matter can hit a little too close to home and that may be one reason Universal Pictures announced the drama “Cartel” has ceased production today.
Loosely based on the 1993 Italian thriller “La Scorta,” Asger Leth’s narrative directorial debut found Josh Brolin as a man doing everything possible to protect his son from Mexican drug cartels after the outlaws brutally kill his wife. The picture was originally intended to shoot last year with Sean Penn in the title role before the Oscar-winner bowed out due to personal reasons.
The studio released an official statement saying, “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.”
Reports indicate that Leth, who previously helmed the documentary “Ghosts of Cite Soleil,” and screenwriter Peter Craig reportedly couldn’t land on a script that satisfied everyone involved. It also appears security concerns about the cartels were making shooting in Mexico a huge logistical concern.
That Universal would pull the plug on the drama is not that surprising. While “Cartel” was budgeted in the $40 million range, the studio has had some costly dramatic endeavors recently such as “The Wolfman” and “Green Zone.” The studio is said to be focusing on more profitable comedies and select franchise players.
Brolin will be seen next as “Jonah Hex” this June. He also has roles in Woody Allen’s “You Will Meet A Tall Dark Stranger” and “Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps.” He’s currently in production on the Coen Brothers’ remake of “True Grit” with Jeff Bridges and Matt Damon.