I bought the LOTR books before the first movie came out, thinking I'd read them before Fellowship hit theaters. But I didn't get around to it. So I went to the 3 films without knowing anything. I thought Samwise would die! That was my greatest fear heading into Return of the King. After the film, I started reading the trilogy. The films actually helped me with the pronunciation of the various names! Then I read The Hobbit prior to those films coming out. I am still trying to read the Silmarrillion!
Favorite Tolkien character:
Samwise Gamgee...an ordinary hobbit can make a difference!