Over the years I have heard filmmakers, executives, and lawyers profess the need for a public collection agency to work with international/territorial film licensors. The concept is that there would be a neutral party that the licensors pay their contracted fees to, and in return for both collecting these fees and dispersing them out to the contracted parties, the agency takes a small percentage. Although there is no US body doing this on American filmmakers behalf, these collection agencies do exist in other countries. It remains a good idea, but the need has morphed and expanded with all the activity in the DIY distribution arena.
It's hard enough to think all the bookers at the the various theaters want to hear from all the filmmakers eager to screen their work. It's harder still to imagine the theater owners want to squabble with these filmmakers over how much they are owed. What's needed is a neutral party to collect and distribute the theatrical receipts and a set of rules on what needs to be provided to demonstrate earnings.
This would be a great undertaking for either the IFP or Film Independent to embrace. Frankly though it could be done just as easily as a for-profit venture and is the sort of low-cost infrastructure build that is perfect for the risk adverse type that still wants to be in the media space; I have to imagine that for less than the cost of another Sundance-wannabe feature, an investor could create a self-sustaining entity that benefits the entire community and our culture as a whole.
Such an agency would also be a very unique entity in terms of its data mining potential. How great would it be if the funder embraced an open source attitude too? Well, a guy can dream can't he?