An explosion of HD movies rocked the iTunes Store this morning without much apparent fanfare from Apple. There are now hundreds of new and classic films available to rent or purchase in HD from iTunes Store.
Headlining iTunes Store's newly-stocked HD shelves are Wall-E, a pre-order for Star Trek (which was only available in SD until now), Hero, The Pirates of the Caribbean trilogy, Knowing, Bolt, and many more. Plenty of classics have arrived in HD as well, including both Kill Bill movies, Short Circuit, Zoolander, No Country for Old Men, and what is probably my favorite B-budget sci-fi film: Cube.
Most of the new HD films are available for purchase, though some are bizarrely limited to rental only. Unfortunately, most HD films—old and new—are listed at the premium $20 price point. Terminator 2 is one of the few exceptions, as it's been available in HD for $13, at least since iTunes Extras arrived. Top Gun is $18, but almost all the other new HD arrivals, no matter how old they actually are or whether they have iTunes Extras (most do not), are $20.
It's been almost two years since HD video came to the iTunes Store. It first arrived as a handful of rentals for Apple TV in January 2008, then expanded a couple months later to a few HD movies for sale in March 2008, and has been growing very, very slowly ever since. Now I count over 280 HD movies for purchase or rent in the iTunes Store's Featured HD Movies section (which I think is all of them). This may get panned by some as an underwhelming release, but considering that movie studios have struggled to get on board with the digital-distribution age, this is a major step forward for completing the iTunes Store's trifecta of mainstream content.