A spokeswoman for the Oscar winner said he is dropping out of the films. Penn spokeswoman Mara Buxbaum did not specify a reason, but said if the start dates on the productions were to be postponed, Penn would remain involved.
Penn was slated to star as Larry in "Three Stooges" and as a man protecting his son in "Cartel."
Last month, Penn withdrew his petition to separate from Robin Wright Penn, his wife of 13 years. They filed for divorce in December 2007, but dismissed that petition several months later.
In February, they were together at the Academy Awards, where the 48-year-old actor won for his role in the drama "Milk."