WASHINGTON (AP) _ The Supreme Court today rejected an appeal by a movie company that faces a $100,000 fine in an antitrust-related case.

The court, without comment, refused to free Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. from the penalty for a contempt finding against one of the corporation's regional managers.

The case has its origins in 1938, when the Justice Department accused Twentieth Century and seven other major movie companies of violating federal antitrust law.

The companies allegedly engaged in practices aimed at preventing small competitors from obtaining choice first-run films.

One common practice, the government said, was ''block booking,'' in which theater owners were forced to accept less popular movies if they wanted to receive more popular ones.

The government and the motion picture companies settled the suit in 1951 under a court-approved consent agreement barring the companies from engaging in illegal practices.

But in 1988, Leila Goldstein, Twentieth Century's manager for Indianapolis, Milwaukee and Minneapolis, was accused of violating the agreement.

She was charged, for example, with insisting that theater owners show the movie ''Black Widow'' if they wanted to run the more popular ''Mannequin.''

Ms. Goldstein was fined $5,000 for contempt, and Twentieth Century was fined $500,000 plus legal costs.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in August ruled that the movie company could be held in contempt for Ms. Goldstein's behavior even though Twentieth Century had taken steps to make sure its employees complied with the 1951 court order.

''It is this rule of vicarious liability that encourages companies to establish compliance programs,'' the appeals court said.

But it ruled that the maximum fine that could be imposed against Twentieth Century without a jury trial is $100,000.

The case is Twentieth Century Fox vs. U.S., 89-661.