The anger stems from the belief that the film is anti-religion and pro-atheism. Some folks plan to boycott the film as a sign of protest. Ironically, searches on "atheism" and "define atheism" have both spiked in response to their efforts. Clearly, people are hearing the message, but not in the way the protesters had hoped.
So, will the boycott hurt or help the film's performance? Searches on "the golden compass" are up 50% this past week and queries on "golden compass controversy" have experienced a similar surge. Some people are looking forward to the flick while others are looking forward to convincing folks to stay home. Stay tuned to see who wins.