HBO Max is cutting back on costs — and cigarettes, too.

In a bizarre move spotted by film buffs on social media, HBO Max has been censoring cigarettes from select iconic movie posters that it displays on its streaming site.

Angry movie fans took to Twitter to reveal the missing smokes on HBO Max’s feeds, which appeared to be scrubbed from iconic movie posters for Robert Altman’s “McCabe & Mrs. Miller” as well as “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean.”

In the photoshopped posters, stars Warren Beatty and Paul Newman no longer hold cigarettes between their fingers but instead appear to be posing — bizarrely — with digits raised, staring off into the distance.

One irritated cinephile slammed the streaming service, which is known for hits like “Game of Thrones,” its prequel, “House of Dragon,” and “Succession,” tweeting:

“No Smoking! Twitter users report HBO Max removed Warren Beatty’s and Paul Newman’s cigars from movie poster art used on its home page: McCabe & Mrs. Miller. The Life and Times of Roy Bean.”

A photo of before and after shots of the altered posters was included, garnering a slew of outraged replies.

“Hahaha absolutely ridiculous. Considering 90% of staff at their parent WB/Discovery vape and sniff cocaine at their desk,” one user tweeted.

“How ridiculous,” another user wrote. “I am SO glad that I don’t give a penny to @HBOMax,” added another.

The original poster of The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean
The unaltered poster of “The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean.”
Warner Bros.
An image of a poster of The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean. In the photo a cigarette is edited out of the image of Bean.
HBO Max has scrubbed the cigarillo out of Paul Newman’s hand on its service.

HBO Max did not comment on why the images were altered.

The news was picked up by a handful of outlets, including New York’s Vulture site, which noted that cigarettes have also been scrubbed from Michelle Reis’s character in the promo still for Wong Kar-wai’s “Fallen Angels,” as well as Kirk Douglas’s character in the poster for “There Was a Crooked Man.”

The author of the Vulture article, Eric Vilas-Boas, tweeted out before and after images of the Douglas poster.

“So bizaro bizarre once you see some of these side-by-side…,” he wrote.

There Was a Crooked Man poster
Writer Eric Vilas-Boas, tweeted out before and after images of the Douglas poster.
Warner Bros.
Kirk Douglas’s character's cigar has been covered up in the HBO Max poster.
Kirk Douglas’s character’s cigar has been covered up in the HBO Max poster.

Although it is hard to say if the censored cigarettes are part of a larger health-related push, there are still a slew of posters on the service that do include smoking and have been untouched so far.

They include “The Nitwits,” “The Two Jakes,” “The Last Detail,” “The Man who Knew Too Much,” and “The Many Saints of Newark,” among others.

Fallen Angel's movie poster
The original “Fallen Angels” poster, which shows the characters smoking cigarettes.
Kino International
The altered Fallen Angels movie poster
The altered “Fallen Angels” poster with the cigarettes removed from the scene.
Kino International

Execs at HBO Max’s new parent company Warner Bros. Discovery have been furiously making changes as they work to combine the HBO Max streaming service with Discovery+, home to TLC, Food Network and Animal Planet.

They are also working to cull $3 billion in costs by 2024– a promise CEO David Zaslav made to investors after the $43 billion mega-merger between Discovery and Warner Media closed earlier this year.

The company got down to business this summer, canceling “Bat Girl” for a tax write-off, slashing and putting up for sale dozens of titles, removing 200 episodes of “Sesame Street,” all while enacting a slew of layoffs.


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Tyler Cowan