A pioneer of premium cable, HBO became popular for a program series that offered plenty of adult-oriented choices in addition to shows for children. But the cable company’s streaming service, HBO Max, continues to make adjustments in the wake of its merger with Warner Bros. Discovery, movie buffs fear the service is overcompensating by trying to protect viewers from the dangers of smoking — by removing images of cigarettes and cigars.
No smoking! Twitter users report that HBO Max has removed Warren Beatty and Paul Newman’s cigars from movie poster art used on the homepage: ‘McCabe & Mrs. Miller’. ‘The Life and Times of’ [Judge] Roy Bean,’” Twitter user Pete Salisbury wrote.
The revised movie poster for director Robert Altman’s 1971 film “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” shows the star Warren Beatty with his fingers raised – a space in between for a cigarette to rest comfortably.
Similarly, a photoshopped version of the poster for the 1972 dramedy “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean” leaves plenty of room for the imagination, with Paul Newman clapping his hands to his mouth as if about to inhale a cigarette.
“Did you ever notice how curiously some of the movie stills and posters on #HBOMax have censored the cigarettes and cigars out of it?” Vulture journalist Eric Vilas-Boas tweeted.
Vilas-Boas noted that several other films have featured artwork influenced by the recent exodus of pro-tobacco imagery, such as director Wong Kar-wai’s “Fallen Angels” and the 1970s western comedy “There Was a Crooked Man…”
Not all movies with tobacco allusions were influenced on the streaming service, though — one example is the 1935 film “The Nitwits,” directed by George Stevens. While co-star Robert Woolsey can clearly be seen pulling away on a fat cigar, the cinematic art has remained unscathed.
Marjiuana-related footage can also still be found on the platform, despite recent push against pro-smoking film footage. The original HBO “High Maintenance” — an anthology series about a bunch of New Yorkers bonded by a mutual weed dealer — uses its artwork as an opportunity to tease the show’s premise; although the design is animated, the marijuana green hue and the wispy puff of smoke exhaled by star Ben Sinclair are a good indication of what to expect for viewers.
HBO Max has not responded to Variety for comment.