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HBO Max's censored movie posters look kind of ridiculous

Two movie posters side-by-side, one with the cigarette removed
(Image credit: HBO Max/Future owns)

With films getting unceremoniously yanked all the time, it can be hard to keep up with each streaming service's various departures. But HBO Max users are spotting an altogether more curious disappearance from the platform: cigars and cigarettes.

It seems the company has been editing the objects out of posters on certain films' splash screens, and the results look, well, a little daft. And what's even stranger is the fact that not every cigarette has been stubbed out. (Looking for poster inspiration? Check out the best print ads of all time.)

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The painted posters for 1970s classics McCabe & Mrs. Miller, The Life and Times of Judge Roy Bean, and There Once was a Crooked Man, no longer feature the lead actors puffing away. But their hands and fingers are still raised in the classic 'smoking' pose, as through they're partaking in a mime course – or a school drama performance.

Two movie posters side-by-side, one with the cigarette removed

Spot the difference (Image credit: Vulture/HBO Max)

When Twitter users began to spot the edits, Vulture writer Eric Vilas-Boas reached out to HBO Max (opens in new tab), but the company has "kept mum" on the issue. This means we still don't know exactly why the streamer has been culling the cigs – whether it's related to health, product placement or something else entirely.

Strangely, there are still some posters up there that do feature smoking, including The Nitwits, The Man who Knew Too Much, and The Many Saints of Newark. It's possible these are also facing the chop, or perhaps the cigarette removal system has since been abandoned.  

HBO's ghost cigarettes are by no means the first movie poster design crimes we've seen in recent months. From The Northman's missing title to that DVD cover critic quote catastrophe, there's no shortage of big screen blunders out there. 

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Daniel Piper
Senior News Editor

Daniel Piper is Creative Bloq’s Senior News Editor. As the brand’s Apple authority, he covers all things Mac, iPhone, iPad and the rest. He also reports on the worlds of design, branding and tech. Daniel joined Future in 2020 (an eventful year, to say the least) after working in copywriting and digital marketing with brands including ITV, NBC, Channel 4 and more. Outside of Future, Daniel is a global poetry slam champion and has performed at festivals including Latitude, Bestival and more. He is the author of Arbitrary and Unnecessary: The Selected Works of Daniel Piper (Selected by Daniel Piper).