From what I remember locally (in the UK) when Nemesis came around there was very little interest in a Star Trek movie, I went to see it a couple of days after it came out and there were very few people there (3 and then myself and my friend). Compare this to a Star Wars movie or most other films and you see that no one cared.
If you want to blame one of the films you have to blame the film before it, people went to see it and didnt enjoy it, so why go and see a sequel?
I agree that a previous effort could certainly hold some sway over whether people are interested in the current one. When Doctor Who
was un-cancelled after it's unpopular 22nd season in 1985, ratings for Season 23 the following year were less than half of their previous level -- I don't blame Season 23 for that, I blame Season 22. There is also the factor of Enterprise
being perceived as something of a failure on television at the time, which can't have impacted positively on "Nemesis" at all.
It isn't a hard-and-fast rule, though. "The Final Frontier" was a failure at the box-office despite "The Voyage Home" being a smash hit. I think "Nemesis" faced a similar challenge. "The Final Frontier" was released at the same time we saw so many blockbuster movies (Batman
, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
, Ghostbusters II
) that it just couldn't compete, not actually being one of those blockbusters itself. IMO, "Nemesis" faced similar opposition from the likes of LOTR: The Two Towers
and the (then) latest Star Wars
prequel. Alongside an apparent general apathy with Star Trek among the public at the time, it didn't have a hope in hell of making an impact.
Star Trek 2009 had the benefit of being released at a time sufficiently distanced from the bad karma associated with the TNG movies, and at a time when it could also reposition itself as a contender against blockbusters like those listed above. As much as the public had a fondness for the series, I don't think any
of the Trek movies before 2009 were really in that kind of position. They were always little movies that punched above their weight (the TNG movies possibly even more so).