Now, this is important: if you have read the books, it would do you well to know before watching the film, that the last three chapters of book 1 have been moved to the second movie. IMO this is to ensure a generally positive ending for the first movie and to keep anticipation for the sequels high. I'm just glad to know it now, rather than go into the movie and go WTF when the credits start rolling. This is also something that was done for the Lord of the RIngs trilogy to make the transitions from film to film smoother.
I've been waiting to watch the His Dark Materials trilogy for a long, long time - the only other series I'm waiting on is Artemis Fowl. I've read the books, heard the audio versions - both Pullman's readings and the beyond stunning BBC radio show version - and I desperately want the screenplay and acting to match up to the fantastic visuals we've seen so far.
Ultimately my hope is that the movie does well, and New Line Cinema gives the green light for The Subtle Knife...which means we finally get to meet Will Parry.
ETA: Director Chris Weitz answers questions from the fans - Part 1 and Part 2. His responses go a long way in calming my anxieties and getting me hyped about the movie. Damn, I wish it were December 7th already.