Disney has announced that it has sold 1.3 million movies through Apple’s iTunes service in the US.

The company made its most popular films available to download on iTunes in October last year and is still the only major film studio to allow its movies to be bought through the service. Many other filmmakers have resisted permitting movie downloads through fear of damaging traditional DVD sales and rentals. However, Disney said that its two most downloaded Disney films, Pirates of the Caribbean and Cars, are also the company’s best-selling DVD titles.

Bob Iger, Disney’s chief executive, has tried to reassure retailers that may be worried about movies being available to download. In an interview with the Financial Times he said that Disney needed to make its content available on digital channels which “the consumer has obviously embraced”. He also said that traditional retail partners needn’t worry as “the pie is getting bigger”.

Disney saw its total number of downloads on iTunes double over the Christmas period, with the number of television programmes downloaded exceeding 20 million.

Apple is expected to launch its iTunes movie and TV download service in Europe in the spring.