There is a strange pattern forming in my movie geekdom. Whenever an intriguing science fiction film comes along that I really like, it always flops.
I admit that I love my sci/fi slow and deep but you would think that at least one of these movies would have been a hit:
Strange Days (great film I talk about a lot)
Dark City ( genius film ripped off by Matrix, yes I said it)
Moon ( not sure how this did nationwide but wasn't in my town long, loved it)
Surrogates (yes, its true, I really liked this movie but thought they should have added more to the story. It was too short)
I guess this pattern started with BLADERUNNER. The best Sci/Fi film ever!
What you are referring to is "Hard" science fiction.
And now a pause while the dipshits out there get their lame-assed jokes and minds out of the gutter....
"Hard" sci-fi is a sub-genre where the writer uses intellect and true science (theory and fact) to explain or construct the back-drop of the story. It also refers to the use of real storytelling and believable characters instead of big bangs and bright colors. It tends to be more creative than Space Operas because it's willing to break from the standard sci-fi formula and try new directions often the province of art films and serious dramas.
The reason hard sci-fi fails so much in theaters is well, most people aren't very deep. They go to the movies to be entertained and turn off their brains for a few hours. Just sit back, watch the pretty colors and follow the same damned story they have seen a hundred times. Surprizes are NOT what they want, because that causes thought. Just something safe and predictable.
Yes, all the films you named are decent in my book...but also too slow or unusual for the public to grasp easily. So they ignore it for another Star Wars or Star Trek or superhero film or 2012 where they already know what to expect. Today's sci-fi is dominated by cardboard characters and big, dumb loud explosions.
It's how Micheal Bay makes millions. And will continue to do so no matter what you say.