I think that one major difference between TOS and TNG was that TOS was squarely built on the backs of Kirk, McCoy, and Spock. Occasionally when they needed somebody else they'd get one of the other minor characters to talk or do something. Uhuru opened hailing channels and Chekov was the Russian guy.
TNG, on the other hand, was an ensemble show, with Picard at the center of the character relationships. And unlike Voyager, where we were told that the crew was a familly, they really felt like a familly in TNG. The last time we see them in All Good Things is sitting around a table playing a friendly game of poker. I never really believed I saw this chemistry in the movies. They were all stiff and distant from each other.
But when the movies came around, they decided that the 'magic' of TNG was the intereactions between Picard and Data. Yes, yes, the Picard and Data show. I understand that you can only focus on so many characters in the span of a movie, but they could have said, "Okay, let's give Troi and Geordi a bigger part in this one," and then in the next one have Worf or Riker close to the top. That way it wouldn't be the Picard and Data show, it would be the TNG Ensemble, where the various characters have relationships between each other. (Freindly; cordial, lovers, whatever.)
Maybe the polling and testing audiences weren't famillar with who Troi and Riker and LeVar Burton were, but if they wrote a decent enough script they could inspire people to care about them.