The Big Change HBO Max Has Apparently Started Making To Certain Movie Posters On Their Service

Cigarette and cigar smoking in films has long been a point of contention among parents, educators, and health professionals. In 2016, one parent took it a step further and sued the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA) after a PG-13 film he took his kids to depicted tobacco on screen. While the judge ruled against the parent, the CDC's 2014 report did find that PG and PG-13 films featuring tobacco use "would cause 3.2 million children to become addicted to nicotine and one million of those children would die prematurely from tobacco related diseases" and many studios had already begun to take note (via Deadline).

Warner Bros. was way ahead of the other major studios, implementing a tobacco policy for their films as early as 2005, and updating it throughout the years. Their policy states that the studio's movies won't include product placement from tobacco companies and that unless smoking is crucial to the work, their movies will avoid depicting tobacco usage on screen.

While the recent merger between Warner Bros. and Discovery has resulted in many changes occurring at HBO and HBO Max, a seemingly recent change to movie posters on HBO Max has taken people by surprise.

HBO Max appears to have censored smoking in some movie posters

On September 12, 2022, Twitter user @Tuckerpete noted, "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." In a screenshot comparing the original art to the edited version of the '70s era films, the cigars the main characters had been holding appear to have been edited out.

As reported by Vulture, it does appear as if tobacco imagery has been removed from some movie posters on HBO Max. However, they also out that there is still some artwork that features tobacco imagery, and despite the erasure of cigarette smoking, HBO still seems very comfortable keeping their images of marijuana smoking intact, such as artwork used for the series "High Maintenance."

Reactions to the alterations have been mixed, with some, like @BrianHolderD pointing out that in the case of "The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean," there is a different poster that doesn't depict smoking that HBO Max could have used. But the majority of commenters think the change is ridiculous, with @RealJMarcus pointing out the satire film "Thank You for Smoking" featured a senator that wanted to do exactly this. That comparison caused @Sordatosp to reply, "Exactly... When parody becomes a reality."

Warner Bros. Discovery and HBO Max have yet to comment on the changes, according to Vulture, but given the many controversies they've weathered the past few months, such as canceling "Batgirl," it's not surprising they're staying quiet about this one.