*Directors F. Gary Gray and Jon M. Chu have emerged as the frontrunners to direct Paramount’s sequel to “G.I. Joe.”

The franchise follow-up is a high-priority project for the studio, which hopes to have production underway by June for a 2012 release, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura has met with a number of directors in recent days, including Gray and Chu, while Paramount execs will commence their talks this week.

Gray, who directed “The Italian Job” for Paramount to $168 million worldwide in 2003, was last in theaters with the 2009 action thriller “Law Abiding Citizen.”

Chu just directed the studio’s “Justin Bieber: Never Say Never,” which opened to $29.5 million last weekend. Before that, he directed two installments in Disney’s “Step Up” dance franchise.

Released in August 2009, “G.I. Joe: The Rise of the Cobra” grossed $150.2 million domestically and $152.3 million internationally for a total of $302.5 million worldwide. Cobra was directed by Stephen Sommers, who previously announced he wouldn’t be returning to the franchise.