Skip to Content

How Big Is a 4K Movie?

As a movie enthusiast and tech-savvy owner, I have to admit that I was quite confused when I first heard about 4K movies. I had no idea what this meant, and I wasn’t sure if it was something I should invest in or not. One significant issue I found is that they take up a lot of space!

So, in this blog post, I’m diving deep into the details of how big a 4K movie is, what it means, and how it stacks up against other video formats. If you’re looking for tips and tricks to make the most out of your 4K movie experience, you’ll find that here, too. So sit back, relax, and get ready to learn all about 4K movies!

Depending on the platform, you might need around 7 GB of data for each hour of the movie’s duration. Yet, factors such as the total length, formats, and FPS contribute to how big a 4K movie will be.

How Big Is a 4K Movie Across Different Platforms?

If you’re not downloading the movie but just streaming it, the data requirements can vary from one platform to the other.

Netflix, for example, requires up to 7 GB of data per hour to watch a 4K or Ultra High Definition (UHD) movie. To put that in perspective, you need to consider that you’d only need 3 GB per hour to stream a High Definition (HD) movie.

If you’re looking to stream 4K on Hulu, you’ll need 16 MB per second, which rounds up to 7.2 GB for every hour of the movie’s length.

Meanwhile, something like YouTube would use 10.58 GB per hour to watch a 4K video at 30 FPS.

So, you might want to look at the estimated data usage for the platform that you’ll be streaming your movie on.

However, the general broadband speed recommended by the Federal Communications Commission to support files as large as 4K video is 25 MB per second. That’s a huge leap from the 5-8 MB required for HD, and it goes to show how large a 4K movie can be.

Here’s a table summarizing the data requirements for streaming 4K movies on different platforms:

PlatformData requirement per hour
NetflixUp to 7 GB
Hulu7.2 GB
YouTube10.58 GB

Factors such as movie duration, frames per second (FPS), and video codec also affect the file size of a 4K movie. HEVC, for example, can cut the required bandwidth and storage size for 4K files by nearly 50% when compared to AVC. It’s also worth noting that a broadband speed of 25 MB per second is recommended to support files as large as 4K video.

Why Are 4K Movie Files So Large?

The main reason why 4K movies are so heavy to download or stream is their resolution.

When we talk about resolution, we’re referring to the number of pixels arranged both horizontally and vertically on the screen’s monitor. A high-resolution movie needs a large file because it demands more pixels to make up a clear and well-defined image. 

Well, the pixel size of full HD or standard HD is 1920 x 1080, whereas 4K has 3840 x 2160.

This actually means that a 4K movie has four times the resolution of a 1080p, also known as Full HD. So, you can expect to see finer details, a high dynamic range, and an expanded color base.

All in all, watching a 4K movie gives you an elevated viewing experience as the details appear sharper and more pronounced. For instance, the hair strands, the edge of a sword, skin tone, and facial features seem more realistic than viewing it in standard HD.

However, this comes at the price of a larger file size. Plus, you need to have the right screen size and viewing distance if you really want to see a difference from the smaller 1080p movies.

Factors That Affect a 4K Movie’s File Size

Even among movies with the same 4K resolution, some files will still be larger than others, and it’s hard to estimate the difference without considering the critical factors.

Here are the important ones to consider:

Movie Duration

Many movies nowadays are 80-120 minutes. Of course, you can expect a bigger file size if you want to watch a three-hour movie compared to a one-hour documentary on 4K.

For instance, the three-hour-long Avengers: Endgame on Kaleidoscope comes with a download size of a whopping 103.3 GB for the 4K HDR format!

Frames Rate or FPS

Frame rate refers to how fast images or frames are shown per second. For example, 24 FPS means that there are 24 individual frames played back in a second.

Typically, action movies are shot at 24 FPS to get that cinematic feel, but there are also higher rates, like 120.

So, if you need to watch a 4K movie with a higher FPS, like Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk, you’ll get a smoother playback. However, you’ll have to deal with a larger file.

Video Codec

In video files, the codec is responsible for compression and decompression. Without digging too much into the technical jargon, it affects how fast your device can process and stream any content, 4K or otherwise.

For one, you have the High-Efficiency Video Coding (HEVC or H.265) and its predecessor, the Advanced Video Coding (AVC or H.264) compressions.

As it happens, HEVC can help cut the required bandwidth and storage size for 4K files by nearly 50% when compared to AVC.

The Takeaway

With its high-resolution crisp images, it’s obvious why more people are choosing to watch 4K movies over the standard HD.

However, this often requires more data and storage space. On average, you’ll need a bandwidth of 25 MBs per second to be able to handle the large 4K movie files.

Read more: HDMI laptop to TV not working