By Nicole Sperling
Updated April 07, 2010 at 09:08 PM EDT

These are tough times in the movie business. If the numbers don’t align, studios are no longer afraid to pull the plug, even when they are only weeks out from the start of production. Such is the case for the Josh Brolin-starrer Cartel. The film, which initially had Sean Penn attached to star, ceased pre-production today as a result of script issues and budget concerns.

Said Universal Pictures in a 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 cast and crew for their work during pre-production.”

The movie was set to star Brolin as a DEA agent who seeks revenge on the Mexican drug cartels after his wife is brutally murdered. Asger Leth (Ghosts of Cité Soleil) was set to direct.