Roman Polanski has lost his bid to be sentenced without returning to the US after a judge ruled the film director must be present in court if he wants to resolve his 32-year-old sex case.

Reiterating Polanski was a fugitive from justice, superior court judge Peter Espinoza said he was acting to protect "the dignity of the court".

Polanski's lawyer said the ruling would be appealed.

The 76-year-old fled the US in 1978 after pleading guilty to unlawful sex with a minor.