Recently-purchased Orbis studio is shuttered, equipment sent to Dallas

First, Orbis Productions and studio facility was sold a scant three months ago to Texan Mark Bunting, who announced the purchase with great fanfare. Now, it’s gone, pouff! just like that.

Well, not entirely gone. Orbis Productions has an office at 401 N. Michigan Ave. where the small staff is tight-lipped. Nobody knows nuttin’.

Inquiries about Orbis’ sudden disappearance into the mist are referred to Bunting (“the most recognized celebrity spokesman for the computer and technical world,” a.k.a. “the Bob Vila of computers”). He hasn’t called back.

As we can gather: About a month ago, an Orbis production manager informed studio clients Tom Engel and Mike Rafayko the facility was closing and their Walgreen’s TV series had to move.

Shortly thereafter, all the equipment was loaded into a semi and rolled off to Dallas where Bunting has a sizeable facility of his own for production of his various shows.

We also learned: When the previous Orbis partners sold the business to the first time around, they also sold the four-story West Loop building. We heard that the new landlord had the option to cancel the lease if the ownership changed and therefore Orbis had to move. Still checking that out.

Bunting told us in November he bought Orbis because it was “a wonderful investment opportunity with the potential of greater sales.” He boasted, “We’ll bring in new blood and resources and grow it into something bigger.” Key creatives soon departed.

Orbis’s sudden shuttering begs the question: Why would Bunting buy an established Chicago production company/studio and vacate it 90 days later? He owns Dallas-based Sky Inflight Television Services that he reacquired in 2000 for an undisclosed price after selling it to Ziff-Davis for approximately $72 million two years earlier.

FYI: Engel said the Walgreen’s show, with nine more episodes to go, is safely ensconced at Ch. 11’s Production Center. The production team headquarters at Swell where the show is finished.

(See Archives Nov. 19, 2003 story of Bunting’s Orbis purchase.)