For Years The Road To Grand Slam Greatness Ran Through Mario Ancic

Mario Ancic never won a Grand Slam tournament; he never even reached a final. He peaked at No. 7 in the world, with a Davis Cup win and an Olympic bronze medal, before illness and injury cut his tennis career short. This week, the 30-year-old Croatian started his final year at Columbia Law School, where he’s preparing for his next career — even as his old friends and rivals gather elsewhere in New York City to compete for the U.S. Open title.But Ancic earned one distinction that ranks him among only a few boldface names in tennis history: On the sport’s biggest stages, he almost always lost to the very best.In his seven years of Grand Slam play, Ancic lost 21 matches. The list of players who eliminated him is a partial who’s who of tennis greats over the last two decades, with just a few interlopers. Of the 25 men who have been No. 1 in the world in the 41 years of ATP World Tour rankings, seven beat Ancic at a Grand Slam. Andy Roddick beat Ancic twice at Grand Slams. Roger Federer did it four times in a little over two years.Even the 10 non-No. 1s who knocked off Ancic were a pretty impressive bunch. They include four other Grand Slam finalists, plus two others who were ranked in the Top 10 when they knocked him out of a major.The quality of a player’s conquerors is a product both of luck and of the player’s own abilities. Some players are so consistently good that they either win the big tournaments they enter or beat all but the very best. Others suffer from poor luck of the draw — like Ryan Harrison of the U.S., or Amer Delic of Bosnia, who faced one-time No. 1s in five of his 10 Grand Slam losses despite never advancing past the third round. Every time the guy thought he was going to get to kick the football, a Lucy — or Novak — yanked it away. Unlike, say, the orderly NCAA tournament bracket, tennis tournaments distribute their entrants randomly, within the constraints of rules preventing the best players from facing each other too early.A handful of other players have lost mostly to the very best, but for slightly different reasons than Ancic did. Only four men with more than 10 Grand Slam losses were facing former, current or future No. 1s in at least half of the losses, according to data provided by Jeff Sackmann, proprietor of the website Tennis Abstract: Ancic, Novak Djokovic, Juan Martin del Potro and Andre Agassi.Djokovic and del Potro are recent Grand Slam champions who have had the misfortune of playing during the reign of Federer and Rafael Nadal, one-time No. 1s who consistently reach the later stages of majors. Neither Djokovic nor del Potro has lost to as many different No. 1s as Ancic did, despite already having longer careers. Agassi is one of the all-time greats and usually was ranked in the Top 10 when he headed into Grand Slam events, so it’s not surprising that it usually took a top player to knock him out of big tournaments.Ancic’s story is quirkier. He was never ranked above 10th in the world heading into any Grand Slam tournament. But he often rolled in the early rounds, as his aggressive serve-and-volley style overwhelmed opponents. He combined that with a knack for drawing tough opponents in later rounds, and usually losing to them; he was 3-11 at Grand Slams against players who at one point were ranked No. 1. Sometimes he had to play them before their prime: As teenagers ranked outside the Top 75, both Nadal and Djokovic beat Ancic at Grand Slam tournaments. Sometimes he had to play them earlier in the tournament than he could have expected to: Ancic had a 25 percent chance of ending up in Federer’s quarter at any given event, yet he did so in four of five Grand Slams he played between 2006 and 2008. Federer was ranked No. 1 in the world each time. Ancic didn’t win a set in any of the matches.Ancic, who has a law degree from the University of Split in Croatia, sees no injustice in his tough Grand Slam record. He just wishes he could have reaped the benefits of his early losses by reversing some of those results once he reached what should have been his prime.“I saw those losses as a challenge — to improve my game, to improve the things I needed to do,” he said in a telephone interview. “That’s part of the fun of being an athlete: challenging yourself against the best of the world. I was never in despair — ‘Oh my God, if I didn’t play Roger in the quarters, if I had a better draw, maybe I’d play in the final of a Slam.’”Ancic felt he was learning from his losses. But then, when he was 22 years old, he battled mononucleosis and other health problems. He came back, several times, but other than one six-month stretch and a later five-month stretch in which he appeared in at least one event each month, his career was stop-and-go. Right when he thought he should be peaking, he was watching his career end. A back injury that would have kept him sidelined for a year convinced him to retire in 2011. Now he occasionally hits with the Columbia team and feels much better physically.Ancic is glad to be at Columbia and creating a new life, but he regrets not realizing his potential. “I’m sure I never achieved my top,” he said. “I still felt my peak was coming later.” He added, “I don’t like to think what would have happened if things were different.”If Ancic really had kept getting better, even more of his losses would have come against top players. And there’s lots of evidence that he was on pace to be one of the best of his generation. He led the under-20 rankings at the end of 2002 and the under-21s in 2004, and was second to Nadal among under-23s in 2006. And more tennis players stay competitive into their late 20s and early 30s these days. Six of the eight U.S. Open men’s quarterfinalists this week were 27 or older; Ancic is 30. Ancic faced each of those quarterfinalists during his career, beating six of them at least once — four at Wimbledon, his best tournament.Ancic remains close to the sport. At his invitation, Djokovic spoke to Columbia law students when in town for an exhibition in March. Ancic attended the U.S. Open on Monday as the tournament’s guest, where he caught up with some old friends who remain on tour. He also continues to follow the game keenly. He predicts Djokovic and Federer will meet in the final this year. If that matchup materializes and Federer wins, Djokovic will have the booby prize of increasing his percentage of Slam losses to one-time No. 1s.Ancic lost to both men at Grand Slams but also beat them both, at Wimbledon — no easy accomplishment against two all-time greats who together have won nine of the last 12 Wimbledons. “We are talking here about a couple of guys who are among the best ever,” Ancic said of Djokovic, Federer and Nadal. “It’s an honor to compete with them.” read more

How Our Club Soccer Projections Work

2France 1England, Germany, Italy, Spain Top divisions only. Countries are listed alphabetically within each tier. 6Albania, Andorra, Armenia, Azerbaijan, Belarus, Bosnia, Cyprus, Estonia, Faroe Islands, Georgia, Iceland, Kazakhstan, Latvia, Lithuania, Luxembourg, Macedonia, Malta, Moldova, Montenegro, Northern Ireland, Serbia, Wales European countries’ soccer leagues, sorted into six tiers by strength This methodology article is for an old version of our club soccer forecasts. See how our latest club soccer predictions work.Today we’re publishing FiveThirtyEight’s club soccer predictions interactive, which includes team ratings, odds for upcoming matches and forecasts for the top five European domestic soccer leagues — the Premier League (England), La Liga (Spain), Bundesliga (Germany), Serie A (Italy) and Ligue 1 (France) — along with the UEFA Champions League, Europe’s premier club competition. Our forecasts are available in both English and Spanish, and we‘ll be adding more leagues in the future, likely starting in a few months with Liga MX, MLS and NWSL.The forecasts are based on a substantially revised version of ESPN’s Soccer Power Index (SPI), a rating system originally devised by FiveThirtyEight editor-in-chief Nate Silver in 2009 for rating international soccer teams and last revised for the 2014 World Cup. For the interactive, we have updated and adapted SPI to incorporate club soccer scores going back to 1888 (from more than 550,000 matches in all),1Including matches from the six leagues we’re forecasting. The data comes from ESPN’s database and James Curley’s GitHub. The model doesn’t take into account matches in lower domestic divisions or in other competitions such as league cups or Europa League. as well as newer play-by-play data from Opta that has been available since summer 2010.In SPI, each team is assigned an offensive and defensive rating, expressed in terms of number of goals it would expect to score and yield against a middling team — so a high offensive rating is good, and a high defensive rating is bad.2Think of a team’s ratings as roughly how it would do against Swansea, Bordeaux or Leganes, based on those teams’ current strength. Unlike with national-team SPI, our club-soccer SPI doesn’t include an overall rating, in part because we plan to add other leagues, and as the pool of teams changes, the overall ratings would shift, too. Given the ratings for any two teams, we can project the result of a match between them in a variety of formats — such as a league match, a home-and-away tie or a cup final — as well as simulate whole seasons to arrive at the probability each team will win the league, qualify for the Champions League or be relegated to a lower division. After every match, a team’s ratings are adjusted based on its performance in that match and the strength of its opponent. Unlike with the Elo rating system we use in several other sports, when a soccer team wins a match but performs worse than expected, its ratings decline.Underlying quality of playSoccer can be tricky to model because there are so few goals scored in each match. The final scoreline fairly often will disagree with most people’s impressions of the quality of each team’s play, and the low-scoring nature of the sport sometimes will lead to prolonged periods of luck, where a team may be getting good results despite playing poorly (or vice versa).To mitigate this randomness, and better estimate each team’s underlying quality of play, we’re using four metrics to evaluate a team’s performance after each match: goals, adjusted goals, shot-based expected goals and non-shot expected goals.The first is simply how many goals a team scored in the match. The second, adjusted goals, accounts for the conditions under which each goal was scored. For adjusted goals, we reduce the value of goals scored when a team has more players on the field,3These are worth about 0.8 goals. This and all other weights were chosen in order to optimize the model for predicting match outcomes. as well as goals scored late in a match when a team is already leading.4Specifically, after the 70th minute, the value of a goal when a team is leading decreases linearly to the end of the game, when a goal is worth half a goal. So a 70th minute goal when leading is worth a full goal, an 80th minute goal is worth 0.75 goals, and a goal in the 90th minute or later is worth 0.5 goals. We increased the value of all other goals to make the total number of adjusted goals add up to the total number of goals scored.Shot-based expected goals are an estimate of how many goals a team “should” have scored given the shots they took in that match. Each shot is assigned a probability of scoring based on the distance and angle from the goal, as well as the part of the body the shot was taken with, with an adjustment for the player who took the shot.5All players who have enough shots in our database are given a modifier based on their historical conversion rates (the number of goals they’ve scored given the shots they’ve had). For example, Lionel Messi has historically converted a shot into a goal about 1.4 times as often as expected, so the probability of any shot he takes is multiplied by 1.4. These individual shot probabilities are added together to produce a team’s shot-based expected goals for that match, which may be bigger or smaller than the number of goals it actually scored.Non-shot expected goals are an estimate of how many goals a team “should” have scored based on non-shooting actions they took around the opposing team’s goal:6That is, within an area slightly larger than the 18-yard box. passes, interceptions, take-ons and tackles. For example, we know that intercepting the ball at the opposing team’s penalty spot results in a goal about 9 percent of the time, and a completed pass that is received six yards directly in front of the goal leads to a score about 14 percent of the time. We add these individual actions up across an entire match to arrive at a team’s non-shot expected goals. Just as for shot-based expected goals, there is an adjustment for each action based on the success rates of the player or players taking the action (both the passer and the receiver in the case of a pass). 4Belgium, Czech Republic, Netherlands, Russia, Ukraine 5Austria, Bulgaria, Croatia, Denmark, Finland, Greece, Hungary, Ireland, Israel, Norway, Poland, Romania, Scotland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Sweden, Switzerland, Turkey TIERLEAGUES Take Sunday’s match between Everton and Manchester City, for example. Although Everton won 4-0, our model didn’t see the match as nearly so lopsided. Two of Everton’s goals came with the lead after the 70th minute. Furthermore, Everton took only six shots. Our shot-based expected goals model would expect only about 0.4 of those shots to go in the net, not the four that did. Man City also was the better team according to our non-shot based expected goals model. In all, our composite scores saw the final result as a 2.16-0.84 win for Everton — much narrower than 4-0.Since all four metrics represent the number of goals a team scored or could have been expected to score during the match, they’re directly comparable, and a team’s composite offensive score is an average of the four metrics; its composite defensive score is an average of the four metrics for its opponent. “An average doesn’t sound very empirical,” you might say, but our testing indicates it does about as well as any other way of combining the metrics. If anything, the expected goals components should count a bit more toward the overall match rating than the goals-based measures, but we have only a little more than six seasons’ worth of data for those components, while we have goals data back to 1888. Therefore, we’re being a little cautious about incorporating this new data. A team is assigned an offensive and defensive rating for a match based on its composite score and the pre-match ratings of its opponent, and these game ratings are combined with the team’s pre-match ratings to produce its updated ratings.As with our Elo-based rating systems, each team’s ratings change in the offseason. Rather than reverting each team toward the same mean, we revert it toward a time-weighted average of its final rating over the past five seasons. In addition, we adjust each team’s preseason rating based on players it acquires or sells in the offseason.7Specifically, these adjustments are based on subtracting transfer fees a team got in the offseason from how much it spent on acquiring players, relative to league average. For every standard deviation of net spend above league average, a team’s rating is boosted by about 0.09 points, split evenly between the team’s offensive and defensive ratings.ForecastingOnce we’ve established ratings for every team in the leagues we cover, we forecast the outcomes of upcoming matches with a Poisson model that forecasts the estimated number of goals we expect each team to score. The parameters in the model are the offensive and defensive ratings of the two teams, home-field advantage,8This varies based on the year of the match and the league the game is being played in. As Oliver Roeder and James Curley documented in 2014 on FiveThirtyEight about English soccer, home-field advantage has decreased over time. and the number of days of rest for each team. We can use these goal forecasts to estimate the probability of each team winning, as well as the chance the match will end in any given score.We then run Monte Carlo simulations to play out each league’s season 10,000 times using our individual match forecasts. As with our other forecasts, we run our Monte Carlo simulations “hot,” meaning that instead of a team’s ratings remaining static within each simulated season, the ratings can rise or fall based on the simulated matches the team plays. In effect, this widens the distribution of possible outcomes by allowing a weak team to go on a winning streak and increase its ratings substantially, or providing for the possibility that a strong team loses its first few games of a simulated season and is penalized accordingly.Leagues and tiersOne challenge when building such a system is the large number of leagues around the world: we have over 400 in our database. Determining a team’s strength within its league is relatively straightforward, but figuring out its strength relative to teams in other leagues is a second challenge. There are often few matches between teams in different leagues or regions. For example, clubs in the Americas rarely play European clubs aside from the Club World Cup or summer warmup matches, for which European sides often don’t field their best teams. 3Portugal To compare different leagues, we’ve come up with a tiered system. Each league belongs to a tier, and each successive tier is a bit weaker9By a margin equivalent to 0.2 goals per game, spread between offensive and defensive ratings. than the one above it. We calculated these tiers using both an analysis of interleague matches (e.g. Champions League or Europa League) and UEFA’s league-strength coefficients.Right now we’re about halfway through the European club season, and several leagues have good races brewing for the last few months. You can follow along at our interactive. read more

Germany Flamed Out In Spectacular Historic Fashion

The loss had a major ripple effect on the rest of the World Cup. With Germany — which we rated as the team most likely to make the Round of 16 going into the tournament (oops!) — on the sidelines, Brazil added 3.5 percentage points to its odds of winning the World Cup. That’s the most of any team — Brazil might have faced the Germans in the next round had they advanced — but England and Belgium were the next-biggest gainers (other than Sweden, which punched its ticket to the knockouts by beating Mexico) because of their own potential proximity to Germany in the bracket.Now there’s one fewer powerhouse for the top teams to contend with — and one more defending champion to toss onto the pile of recent disappointments.Jay Boice contributed research. Expected Goals UnderdogFavoriteWinner’s Pregame Probabilities 6/18/2014SpainChile2.00-2.0 Biggest upsets of the 2018 World CupFor match winners, according to pregame Soccer Power Index odds Say goodbye to another defending World Cup champion: Germany, the team that won it all four years ago, is officially out of the 2018 tournament. Despite ultimately only needing a win over South Korea — the fourth-worst team in the field, according to our pre-tournament soccer power index ratings — to advance to the knockout round, the Germans were upended 2-0 on Wednesday in what was easily the biggest upset of the World Cup thus far. (Going into the match, our model only gave South Korea a 5 percent probability of winning.) Source: ESPN Stats & Info Source: ESPN Stats & Info 6/18/2006CroatiaJapan2.00-2.0 The World Cup’s most disappointing games since 1966Biggest single-match gaps between actual and expected goals, 1966-2018 6/17/2014BrazilMexico1.80-1.8 Jun. 27South Korea2Germany05%14%81% 6/14/1978PolandArgentina2.10-2.1 Jun. 25Saudi Arabia2Egypt1232849 Perhaps more surprising than the fact that another defending champ fell was just how Germany managed to let its chance slip away. It peppered South Korean goalkeeper Jo Hyeon-Woo with scoring attempts, out-shooting the Koreans 26-11 and holding possession for 70 percent of the match. According to ESPN’s expected goals model, we would predict that a team with Germany’s opportunities would net 2.9 goals — instead, it scored zero.It was the sixth-most expected goals that any team has had during this World Cup; the five teams above Germany averaged 3.6 actual goals per game. But Germany was unable to break through when even one goal potentially would have been enough to propel it to the next phase of the tournament. (South Korea’s late goals were essentially the product of Germany playing an all-out offensive strategy, knowing it needed to win outright because of Sweden’s lead over Mexico in the other group game happening at the same time.) According to ESPN’s Stats & Information Group, Germany’s 2.9-goal shortfall was the worst in any World Cup match since 1966: DateTeamOpponentExpectedActualDiff. Jun. 22Nigeria2Iceland0343036 6/25/2014FranceEcuador1.80-1.8 7/1/2014SwitzerlandArgentina2.10-2.1 7/19/1966ItalyNorth Korea1.90-1.9 6/27/2018GermanySouth Korea2.90-2.9 6/30/2014GermanyAlgeria4.52-2.5 6/19/1974NetherlandsSweden2.00-2.0 DateTeamScoreTeamScoreWinDrawLose read more

Soccer fans around the country gather at International Champions Cup

Derevon Guyton cheers on PSG in the International Champions Cup at Ohio Stadium on July 27, 2016. Credit: Jacob Myers | Assistant Sports EditorWednesday night was another night inside Ohio Stadium where the fans were loud, somewhat obnoxious, donning their team’s colors, but it wasn’t quite September yet. A warm night in July pitted European soccer powerhouse clubs Paris Saint-Germain against Real Madrid.The International Champions Cup came to Columbus for the first game in the ‘Shoe since 1998 when the Columbus Crew played their last home season on Ohio State’s campus. All night, the atmosphere was electric, filled with an attendance of 86,641—a record for the state of Ohio. For some, this was the first chance they got to see the stars they idolize oversees.Derevon Guyton, 28, traveled from Washington state to see his beloved PSG squad play for the first time.“PSG to the death of me, bro,” Guyton said. “That’s my boys out there, man. I’m sitting out here, but I feel like I’m on the field with them.”A soccer fan since high school, Guyton flew out to Baltimore on Saturday to meet with his girlfriend for two days before they travelled to Columbus for the international friendly. He estimated his trip to be $1,200.Sporting a Zlatan Ibrahimovic jersey, who has since left PSG for the Premier League’s Manchester United, Guyton waved his red and blue PSG flag for the entire crowd to see, as if they couldn’t hear him already. Cheering at every moment, mocking Real Madrid defender Marcelo as he fell to the turf, the passion exuding from Guyton represented the growth of soccer in America.“I’ve been waiting to see them for years. It just costs too much to go to Paris. It’s not really feasible unless you’re like a millionaire, bro. It’s like $5,000,” said Guyton. “So for them to come here, it’s a big deal for me. I’ll always remember this.”Fans from nearby Dayton, Cincinnati, Toledo and Detroit made the journey to OSU for Wednesday’s friendly, as well as some from Chicago. These fans may live in the U.S., but some of them represent nationalities of Spain, France, Canada and even Nepal. One family made the trip to Columbus from Columbia to cheer on their national hero.“James (Rodriguez for Real Madrid). We came to see James,” said the family. Their trip cost around $2,000.A nationwide obsession of the video game FIFA has been a major impact in the expansion of soccer in the U.S. Major League Soccer has 20 teams currently playing across the country and some in Canada.Former Columbus Crew player Frankie Hejduk, who won a championship for the Crew in 2008 when there were just 14 teams in the MLS was in attendance on Wednesday night. He said that seeing die-hard soccer fans from many nationalities bonding with an American football-dominant crowd is something he didn’t think would have been possible five years ago.“This game really brings attention to the fans who don’t know much about soccer that could potentially say, ‘I had a blast,’” Hejduk said. “That’s what I see is people are learning to respect the game a lot more because these guys are athletes.”PSG won 3-1 with all scoring in the first half. The first goal came at the two-minute mark sending the crowd into a frenzy. Personal photos were being taken just about everywhere around the stadium to remember the moment they first got to see their team play in America. Fans also took part in a resounding stadium “O-H-I-O” in the second half.Real Madrid midfielder Lucas Vasquez said that he felt at home on the pitch and the atmosphere was phenomenal.“I think what we have seen is that all around the world we have fans, and we saw them when we got to the hotel,” said Real Madrid manager Zinedine Zidane. “Overall, we’re happy to be here and to spend a little time with the fans in Columbus.”The preseason exhibition between PSG and Real Madrid is one of four games played in the U.S. this month as a part of the ICC. Columbus has been a city that has adapted well to the game, but Wednesday night may have been another installment into how the sport continues to grow in the country.“It promotes real football. It shows them what football really is,” Guyton said. “I still believe that the MLS is years behind all the other leagues. But this right here is a spectacle.” read more

Football Austin Mack probable for Saturdays game against Army

Wide receiver Austin Mack comes down with a 31-yard reception in the third quarter against Oklahoma. Credit: Jack Westerheide | Photo EditorAfter exiting Ohio State’s 31-16 loss to Oklahoma in the second half with an injury, sophomore wide receiver Austin Mack is “probable” for the team’s game against Army Saturday, coach Urban Meyer said in his press conference.Mack made a leaping catch in the third quarter of the Oklahoma game and brought down the 31-yard pass, but hit his head when he landed and was forced to leave the game.“He’s just feeling much better today,” Meyer said. “So they’re very cautious about it. We’ll know more tomorrow. But I put him as probable for the game.”The second-year wideout has two receptions for 37 yards this season. The two receptions matches his total from a year ago, and the 37 yards eclipse last season’s total of 15. He has been listed every week as one of Ohio State’s starting wide receivers. Kickoff for Ohio State’s game against Army is scheduled for 4:30 p.m. in Ohio Stadium. read more

Jamaicans urged to secure their properties for Hurricane Season before travelling

first_imgFacebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsAppJamaica, August 15, 2017 – Kingston – The Office of Disaster Preparedness and Emergency Management (ODPEM) is encouraging persons to take the time to ensure that their properties are protected before travelling, in the event that a tropical cyclone should affect the island.Director of Preparedness and Emergency Management, at the ODPEM, Horace Glaze, tells JIS News that persons should make an assessment and put things in place to prevent any incidents or minimise the event of any such occurring.He states that property owners should create and work from a checklist, especially looking if the properties are susceptible to landslides and wind damage.“If you (live in a) flood-prone (area) you need to put your furniture and other items on raised platforms. If you live in an area where the population is sparse, you may want to let the police know you might be away for an extended period. It’s really about assessing your personal circumstances, what your likely risks and vulnerabilities are and addressing them accordingly,” he says.Mr. Glaze also encourages home and business owners to check for any hazards, which could affect the safety of roofs and windows.“Do a hazard hunt around the home…both externally and internal. You’re not at home… and the (strong) winds might just blow down a tree, which might pull down electric service wires. Plug out all unnecessary electrical (equipment), you’re less likely to have a fire at home as a result,” he informs.He adds that trees should be pruned to prevent structural damage, in the event that a tree falls.   “If you’re doubtful of the structure and you need to do the necessary ‘tie downs’, do that. If you have shutters in place, pull them down to prevent glass from breaking.  Some persons will be concerned about flooding, some persons about landslides while others may be concerned about wind damage,” he notesOn the matter of placing concrete blocks and heavy stones on roofs, Mr. Glaze says persons should fix their roofs, using the proper roof screws, as ‘roof weights’ could pose a serious problem, in the event of a hurricane, especially for neighbours.He further encourages persons to seek the guidance of their local artisans and carpenters on how to properly strap down roofs, as simply placing heavy objects on the roof is not enough.Meanwhile, the ODPEM Director notes that often pets are forgotten and adequate preparations are not made to protect them.He advises that plans must be put in place to relocate pets from a house or an establishment, to a place where they can be housed to ride out the storm.Mr. Glaze reiterates that steps must always be taken by persons to have their properties monitored either by a neighbour, family or other source, to ensure some level of security and protection during or after the adverse weather. Related Items: Facebook Twitter Google+LinkedInPinterestWhatsApplast_img read more

Shazam writer Henry Gayden roped in to pen down script for sequel

first_imgShazam! in your nearest theatres!TwitterThere’s some good news for Shazam! fans as the writers have confirmed a sequel is in the making. And for the sequel, Warner Bros. is reportedly bringing back the original scriptwriter, Henry Gayden. The studio also plans to bring back David F. Sandberg to direct the sequel.As per an exclusive report on The Wrap, Warner Bros, New Line and DC Comics are set to bring back a sequel to the magic created by Shazam with Shazam! 2. For Shazam!, Gayden received sole screenplay credit in the film. Apart from Gayden and Sandberg, producer Peter Safran is also supposed to return for the sequel. For the uninitiated, Shazam! tells the story of a teenager Billy (Asher Angel) who is chosen as a vessel for Shazam’s (Zachary Levi) return. Shazam is basically an ancient wizard with extraordinary powers. What follows further is how the super cool school boy turned into a superhero tries to stop the evil billionaire industrialist Sivana (Mark Strong) from acquiring Shazam’s powers for himself.#Shazam sequel in the works with screenplay writer Henry Gayden tapped to write the script, director David F. Sandberg expected to return(via @TheWrap | https://t.co/96RQyFKQs8) pic.twitter.com/xBx8JEIWcx— Fandom (@getFANDOM) April 8, 2019Shazam! sequel in the makingTwitterThe film released last week but has already managed to score big money at the box office. The film has managed to become #1 worldwide with its overperformance. Exceeding the expectations of trade experts, the North American collection has rounded up to $56.8 million with a gross $102.3 million collection at the international box office. This has brought the total of Shazam to a whopping $159.1 million. The world seems to be in DC Comics superhero’s favour as fans are flocking over to the cinema to uplift the box office scores and success of the films. Previously, Aquaman and Wonder Woman were the ones who managed to achieve such a feat after the momentary setback caused by a series of Warner Bros and DC Comics films.Henry Gayden, a relatively new writer to the studio movies is currently basking in the success of Shazam. Of course, though, the possibility of Shazam 2 completely depends on the script by Gayden. If the script is good enough, the studio will give the sequel a green light to continue. Will the film bring Black Adam as the antagonist? Since the first film did not introduce Black Adam over Dwayne Johnson’s request, which he revealed in his Instagram video. It would be interesting to learn how Gayden plans to go about with the script for the sequel.last_img read more

As soon as BJP is ousted from Centre their growth will die

first_imgKolkata: Soon after addressing an election rally in the South Kolkata Lok Sabha constituency, Trinamool Congress chief Mamata Banerjee gave a brief interview to The Wire’s founding editor Siddharth Varadarajan and its Calcutta-based contributor Himadri Ghosh.In the interview, she discussed the possible outcomes of the election on May 23, accused Narendra Modi of political vendetta and also touched upon how the BJP’s so-called growth will come down drastically once they are ousted from the Centre. Also Read – Rs 13,000 crore investment to provide 2 lakh jobs: MamataExcerpts: SV: Well, the 2019 election, Narendra Modi has been the face, the voice, the name that has dominated the campaign. And you have been perhaps the most forthright in directly challenging him. You say no matter what happens, Narendra Modi must go. Why do you believe that this one person’s ouster is so crucial to this election? MB: He’s not only a fascist, he’s an egoist. He has tremendous political vendetta. I used some harsh words today. But they are not harsh words. They are politically strong, bold words. Because, you know, we respect our great son of the soil, Ishwar Chandra Vidyasagar, very much. We are celebrating 200 years this year. But the goons, the BJP goons from the Amit Shah rally, they have totally destroyed Vidyasagar’s statue… These type of people must go from this country. They must go from politics. The politician should know what is politics. Politics means sacrifice. Politics means dedication, determination, devotion. But if you think politics means “goondaism”, hooliganism, fair enough… In a democracy, everybody has the right to speak. Also Read – Lightning kills 8, injures 16 in stateSV: Does it worry you that in Bengal, in a very short duration of time, the BJP has emerged as your principal challenger? The Left does not seem to be in the race. MB: Not at all, somebody will be the opposition. In a democratic setup, somebody will be ruling party, somebody will be opposition. I may be number one, but they may be number two, three or four. It is the CPM’s business, that CPM’s goons, they are joining the BJP, because the BJP is giving… to them also. So it is their matter. I don’t mind who will come as the second person. I will certainly try that I must be first. HG: Madam, we have seen for some time, people from the CPM are now marching under the BJP flag. Who do you blame for this? MB: I am telling you, this is not growth. This is absolutely not growth. This happens when the BJP is in power in the Centre. They use the situation. There, they work through agencies, so there is some growth. If the BJP is not in power, then this growth will die in a second. It is temporary. SV: In the event that the BJP falls short by a significant number… how will you… MB: We will not support the BJP. SV: Under any circumstances? MB: No.last_img read more

New Service Aims to Simplify Ecommerce Payments

first_img Brick-and-mortar retailers wouldn’t dream of sending customers outside the confines of their stores to finalize a purchase. Yet online merchants do it all the time, ushering shoppers away from digital storefronts to third-party payment platforms like PayPal. It’s counterintuitive–and can lead to lost revenue.Roughly two-thirds of consumers abandon shopping carts before completing a web purchase, due mainly to the complexity and length of the checkout process. A new service, Ribbon, promises to eliminate this friction with a patent-pending, quick-and-simple system that enables merchants to take payments via links inserted into websites, e-mail, Facebook pages and Twitter feeds.”Why push buyers away from whatever platform they’re already on? Why don’t we keep them there?” asks Hany Rashwan, co-founder and CEO of the San Francisco-based company. “With Ribbon, the buyer never leaves.”Merchants log on to Ribbon and plug in product information, photos and videos; for each item, the service generates a short URL, which sellers can copy and paste anywhere they wish to offer merchandise. Each URL links to a one-page checkout option customized for that platform. For example, if a customer clicks on a product from a seller’s Facebook page, the purchase is completed entirely within the News Feed, for a consistent, user-friendly customer experience.Ribbon works with all major credit cards and processes purchases over a fully encrypted, SSL-secure payments system. All payments are deposited directly into the seller’s bank or PayPal account. Ribbon takes 5 percent of the purchase price and a 30-cent transaction fee–high in the online payments game, but worth it for the convenience, the company claims.Ribbon has thousands of vendors; roughly half market digital products like music. San Francisco rock trio Cloning Dolly turned to Ribbon to sell tickets to a recent concert and plans to offer T-shirts and song downloads in the future. “We posted the Ribbon link directly into our Facebook News Feed,” says singer/guitarist Alejandro De Simone. “People told us buying tickets was easy and fast. The way it’s presented is very intuitive.” May 16, 2013 Free Webinar | Sept. 9: The Entrepreneur’s Playbook for Going Global Growing a business sometimes requires thinking outside the box. This story appears in the April 2013 issue of . Subscribe » 2 min read Register Now »last_img read more

Amazon has taken on Netflix with the launch of Pri

first_imgAmazon has taken on Netflix with the launch of Prime Video in more than 200 countries and territories around the world.The subscription video-on-demand service went live today at no additional cost to Amazon Prime members in Belgium, Canada, France, India, Italy and Spain.Customers in the other new Prime Video territories – which span the globe from Ecuador to Indonesia – can sign-up at an introductory price of US$2.99 (or €2.99) per month for the first six months and US$5.99 (or €5.99) thereafter.With the move, Amazon is undercutting its rival Netflix, which currently offers three pricing tiers starting from US$7.99 per-month for the basic package in the US, or €7.99 in Europe.Customers can access the SVOD service through the Amazon Prime Video app on Android and iOS phones and tablets, Fire Tablets, select LG and Samsung Smart TVs or online at PrimeVideo.com, and can also download content to view offline.Users can watch content in English, with French, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish subtitled and dubbed versions also available for many titles.Like Netflix, following its rollout to 130 new countries earlier this year, Prime Video is now available across Europe, Africa, Asia, Australia, North and South America. China too is Amazon’s one notable omission from its expansion drive.“We are excited to announce that starting today, fans around the world have access to Prime Video,” said Tim Leslie, vice-president, international, Prime Video.Citing a number of Amazon Original shows, Leslie added: “What’s really exciting is that we are just getting started.”The launch comes on the back of Amazon’s recent release of Jeremy Clarkson-fronted car show The Grand Tour. The show, which Netflix’s content boss Ted Sarandos has previously claimed cost US$250 million for three seasons, was described by Amazon as “the biggest show premiere ever on Prime Video”.Other Amazon originals available on Prime Video include The Man in the High Castle, Transparent, Mozart in the Jungle and Tumble Leaf.Amazon initially went head-to-head with Netflix in the US in April by launching Prime Video as a standalone, pay-monthly service for the first time there. Previously it was only available for a flat annual rate as part of Amazon’s wider Amazon Prime offering, which also includes ebook access, music streaming and free two-day shipping of physical goods.In the UK, a monthly subscription option for Prime Video, priced at £5.99 per-month, has been available since Amazon launched Prime Video there in 2014, as this continued over from the LoveFilm Instant package. Amazon acquired DVD-by-mail and streaming company LoveFilm for a reported £200 million in 2011.Commenting on today’s Prime Video expansion, Digital TV Research principal analyst, Simon Murray said: “Amazon Prime Video is cheaper than Netflix, but it has the disadvantage of starting 11 months after Netflix rolled out to 130 countries.“Although Amazon Prime Video will make a major impact to the global SVOD sector, we feel that this will be fairly limited outside North America, Western Europe and Australasia. However, this could well change as Amazon rolls out its Prime platform to new countries.”last_img read more

Red Bee Media CTO Steve Plunkett Red Bee Medias

first_imgRed Bee Media CTO, Steve PlunkettRed Bee Media’s chief technology officer, Steve Plunkett talks us through what to look out for at this year’s Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas.It’s that time of the year again. The over-indulgence of the Christmas period, perhaps with some technology overspend on the latest gadgets, gives way to the double whammy of the credit card bill and the world’s consumer electronics companies rolling in to CES in Las Vegas showing off what will shortly make those new gadgets obsolete.As the world’s biggest show of its kind, CES covers everything from connected washing machines, robot vacuum cleaners, Terminator-esque glasses and of course TVs and related media devices. I suspect that much of the focus this year will be on wearable technologies and the long heralded ‘Internet of Things’ (WiFi enabled kitchen goods etc), but as always we can expect to see the current state of the art in the consumer facing side of our industry too. So what should we be looking out for?Ultra-HD, aka 4K, otherwise known as 2160p TVEvery manufacturer you have ever heard of, and many more that you haven’t, will be demonstrating Ultra-HD/4K wares at the show. There seems to be unstoppable momentum amongst the CE vendors to put 3DTV behind them and replace it post haste with UHDTV.  Putting aside for now the debate about the practical benefits of 4K resolution on sub 60-inch screens, and the lack of any content, it’s probably a safe bet to assume that these displays will become mainstream over the next five years.However, despite the fact that I make the typical early adopter look like a technophobe laggard, I won’t be buying a 4K TV just yet. There are too many outstanding issues to be resolved before it makes sense for the home. These include the maturity/availability of HEVC/H.265 implementations to make distribution practical – and other contenders such as Google’s VP9 codec, which will be promoted at CES. Ditto for the latest version of HDMI (2.0), which will be necessary to feed your UHDTV with attractive higher frame rate material, and related industry consensus on issues such as colour spectrum and contrast. And that’s to say nothing of the cost to upgrade the entire production, post and broadcast distribution chain to get high-res content there in volume.OLEDOne of the most impressive display technology improvements that I noted at last year’s show was the OLED TVs being demonstrated. OLED is a very different technology to today’s LCD based displays, not to be confused with the somewhat misleading “LED” TVs that dominate at the moment. LED TVs use LCD panels that are backlit using an array of LEDs. OLED TVs require no backlighting and so can be both thinner and less power hungry, but most notably, they provide beautiful images with vibrant colours that have to be seen to be appreciated.Unfortunately, large OLED panels are expensive to produce using current manufacturing processes and the OLEDs themselves deteriorate and lose their colour range over time. Sony and Panasonic teamed up to tackle these issues but that partnership was recently abandoned leaving some to question the future viability of OLED TVs. Let’s hope that breakthroughs can be made as this really is a promising technology.Smarter TVsFinally, we are likely to see more attempts to make your TV smarter, both in terms of how it connects to content and how it connects to us. Internet delivered content is already quite common on new TVs and the earlier technology limitations are being steadily addressed. Gesture and voice control, along with viewer recognition technologies are emerging and are something to watch with interest in 2014.As the ongoing attempts to reinvent television continue, it’ll be interesting to see what CES 2014 brings.last_img read more

Amazon takes on pharmacy sector with new acquisition Update

first_img Amazon set its sights on the pharmacy market Thursday with the acquisition of tech-focused retailer PillPack, sending shock waves through the sector over prospects of disruption by the US online colossus. Amazon had long been rumored to be interested in the pharmacy business ‘Hacking medicine’PillPack was launched by two members of the “hacking medicine” initiative at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and helps people manage multiple medications with a software platform that offers reminders, dose-specific packaging and delivery. Citation: Amazon takes on pharmacy sector with new acquisition (Update) (2018, June 28) retrieved 18 July 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2018-06-amazon-pillpack-pharmacy.html Amazon has long been rumored to be interested in the pharmacy business, and the entry by a powerful new player could unsettle a business dominated by large American chains including CVS and Walgreens.Terms were not disclosed on the deal for PillPack, an online pharmacy which operates in all 50 US states and offers pre-sorted dose packaging and home delivery. Some media reports said Amazon paid $1 billion and outbid rival retail giant Walmart.”PillPack’s visionary team has a combination of deep pharmacy experience and a focus on technology,” said Jeff Wilke, head of Amazon Worldwide Consumer, in a statement.”We want to help them continue making it easy for people to save time, simplify their lives, and feel healthier.”CVS shares slid 6.1 percent in closing trading on the news, while Walgreens Boots Alliance slumped 9.9 percent.Neil Saunders of the research firm GlobalData Retail called the Amazon acquisition “a warning shot” for the pharmacy sector.”Not only has Amazon finally made a solid move into pharmacy, it has done so via an innovative supplier which helps patients manage and organize their prescription drugs,” Saunders said in a research note.He added this “is only the first play in an increasingly aggressive strategy” by Amazon in the sector.”This is incredibly bad news for traditional players, like Walgreens and CVS, who stand to lose the most from Amazon’s determination to grow its share,” Saunders said.Saunders added that “Amazon’s entry into any market will put downward pressure on prices and upward pressure on costs as others try to match its service,” and that CVS and Walgreens could be vulnerable.Walgreens CEO Stefano Pessina told a conference call on its quarterly results Thursday that “we are not particularly worried” about Amazon but added that “we know that we have to change the level of our services to the customers and we are working quite hard on that.” This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only. Explore further Amazon threatens to disrupt the prescription drug delivery business, analysts say © 2018 AFP The Boston-based company has said it has raised $118 million from investors and venture funds since its launch in 2013.”Together with Amazon, we are eager to continue working with partners across the healthcare industry to help people throughout the US who can benefit from a better pharmacy experience,” PillPack co-founder and CEO TJ Parker said in a statement.Amazon and PillPack said they expected to close the deal by the end of the year, subject to regulatory approval.Seattle-based Amazon, which began two decades ago as an online bookseller, has mushroomed into one of the world’s largest companies.It has retail operations across the globe, a large cloud computing business, a video service that competes with Netflix and a hardware division that makes devices powered by its digital assistant Alexa, which is available to makers of appliances, cars and other products.Last year, Amazon closed a deal to acquire the Whole Foods grocery chain and has begun offering discounts to consumers who are members of its Prime subscription service.Separately Thursday, Amazon announced plans to expand its own delivery fleet to reduce its dependence on services like Fedex and the US Postal Service.Amazon said it has committed $1 million to a fund to help individuals and entrepreneurs set up a contractual delivery service with Amazon.”Individual owners can build their business knowing they will have delivery volume from Amazon, access to the company’s sophisticated delivery technology, hands-on training, and discounts on a suite of assets and services, including vehicle leases and comprehensive insurance,” an Amazon statement said.”Over time, Amazon will empower hundreds of new, small business owners to hire tens of thousands of delivery drivers across the US.” Amazon began two decades ago as an online bookseller but has mushroomed into one of the world’s largest companies whose assets also include groceries and a hardware divisionlast_img read more