Colin Firth has signed on to star in Jonathan Teplitzky’s The Railway Man for Lionsgate, which takes UK distribution rights and also handles international sales.

Frank Cottrell Boyce and Andy Paterson have adapted Eric Lomax’s book, about his torture during the construction of the Thailand-Burma Railway, aka the Death Railway, in World War II and his revenge decades later.

The project is the first major investment from Daria Jovicic’s Latitude Media.

Producers are Paterson (Girl With a Pearl Earring), Chris Brown (The Proposition), and Bill Curbishley (Quadrophenia). Lionsgate UK CEO Zygi Kamasa will executive produce.

The film is an official Australia/UK co-production between Paterson’s Archer Street and Brown’s Pictures in Paradise.

The Railway Man will start shooting February 2012 on location in the UK, Thailand and Queensland, Australia.  Transmission, which also pre-bought Burning Man, will release in Australia and New Zealand.

Lionsgate UK CEO Zygi Kamasa said: “To have Colin Firth in such a compelling story as The Railway Man is a real coup for us. We’re looking forward to working with Andy, Chris, Bill and Jonathan on this epic tale of love and redemption which we think will have universal appeal for audiences around the world.”

Teplitzky, who has Burning Man premiering today at TIFF, said: “The Railway Man is an amazing story and to have the chance to make it with Colin Firth as Eric is really the best gift any director could hope for.”

Lionsgate UK also backed Lasse Hallstrom’s Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, which premieres at TIFF.