UPDATE, Thursday, 1:57 AM: The mooted Russell Crowe-James Franco collaboration on Cormac McCarthy’s Blood Meridian has been shelved, mere moments after details of it first became public after it emerged that the filmmakers had not yet secured rights to the novel.

The package had appeared to be one of the splashier to hit the upcoming Cannes Film Festival market. However, in a situation that highlights the precariousness of conducting film business in an instantaneous online media climate, the breaking news reports about the project appear to have derailed the fragile discussions taking place with the rights owners and the cast. This is a deeply regrettable situation — no one ever wants a story to get in the way of deals being done.

The day began so much brighter with the news that Crowe was in talks to star in a Franco-directed adaptation of McCarthy’s Blood Meridian with Tye Sheridan and Vincent D’Onofrio also boarding the cast. Franco was also set to act in the film, which was to be produced by Scott Rudin, Cassian Elwes and Franco’s Rabbit Bandini partner Vince Jolivette. IM Global was to handle international sales at Cannes with CAA repping domestic rights.

James Franco - The Fixer, King CobraCrowe and McCarthy had seemed about as perfect a fit as cheese and chutney. This long-in-the-works adaptation has been around for some time and finally looked like it might be moving forward. McCarthy’s critically praised book is based on historical events that took place on the Texas-Mexico border in the 1850s and traces the journey of the Kid, a 14-year-old Tennesseean who stumbles into a nightmarish world when he joins a ruthless gang of scalp-hunters that includes the mysterious and menacing Judge Holden.

Let’s hope this project can still move forward at some point in the future given the combination of source material and the collection of filmmaking talent in front of and behind the camera.

It’s been a busy few days for Crowe. Yesterday, Deadline broke the news he was to join Tom Cruise in Universal’s reboot of The Mummy. The Oscar-winning star will also be on the Croisette for the Cannes premiere of The Nice Guys, the Shane Black-directed drama which also stars Ryan Gosling.

Crowe is repped by WME. Franco is repped by CAA and Untitled Entertainment.