Customers can buy hit titles for $19.99 and rentals will cost $4.99. Rentals will be available a month after a film is released on DVD. Prior to this offer, high-def films were only available for rental.
The high-def quality movies are compatible with Macs and PCs. But iPhones and iPods can still only play films in standard definition, the company said. Each high-def film comes with a standard-def copy to play on Apple's handhelds.
"Customers have made HD content on iTunes a hit, with over 50 percent of TV programming being purchased in HD when available," said Eddy Cue, Apple's vice president of Internet Services in a statement.
As my colleague Declan McCullagh notes, the $20 price for HD costs less than Blu-ray discs but the large HD files are likely to eat up a lot of hard-drive space.
Apple's downloads use more compression than Blu-ray so that means a falloff in quality.