Quaid filed a lawsuit Thursday in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging producers got him to work cheap by falsely claiming "Brokeback" was "a low-budget, art-house film, with no prospect of making any money."
"Yet from day one, defendants fully intended that the film would not be made on a low budget, would be given a worldwide release, and would be supported as the studio picture it always was secretly intended to be," the lawsuit says.
Quaid agreed to waive his usual seven-figure fee and share of gross profits in favor of a much smaller payment, the lawsuit claims, although it doesn't say how much he was paid.
The 55-year-old actor was nominated for an Oscar for his role in 1973's "The Last Detail." He played Colonel Tom Parker, Elvis Presley's manager, in the TV movie "Elvis."
The lawsuit alleges intentional and negligent misrepresentation and seeks at least $10 million in damages. It names Focus Features LLC, Del Mar Productions LLC, which was formed by Focus to make the movie, and producers David Linde and James Schamus.
Focus is the specialty movie arm of Universal Pictures. Linde and Schamus were co-presidents of Focus when the film was made. Linde was recently promoted to co-chairman of Universal Pictures.
Focus Features does not comment on pending litigation, spokeswoman Adriene Bowles said Friday.
The lawsuit contends that industry guilds define a low-budget film as having a budget of $500,000 to $7 million, but the budget for "Brokeback" was about $15 million.
Bowles said the budget was $13.9 million.
The average cost of making a studio picture last year was $60 million, according to the Motion Picture Association of America.
"Brokeback Mountain," which won Oscars for best director, original score and adapted screenplay, has grossed more than $82 million in North America.